Journaling Isn’t Just for Tween Girls & Writers Anymore

by Lesley-Anne Longo

Published at 2014-07-08

Part of my job here at TEC is keeping up with some of the company’s social media outletsnamely, Pinterest and senior editor Beth’s business Twitter account. This means that a big chunk of my Wednesday each week is spent scouring the Internet for new stories, entrepreneurial tips and tricks, and out-of-the-box business stories to share with others.
I read a lot of business articles and online information that offer unusual ways that are supposed to help us streamline our day and be more aware of our habits at work. Tips that can help us introduce new habits and maybe change some of the ones holding us back. Some of the suggestions are kind of no-brainers, like keeping our calendar up to date (I wouldn’t know which way was up without mine), or making sure our physical activity level is one of our many priorities (endorphins, y’all).
But one tip I found and tweeted out got a bit more of a response than usual: "Why You Should Keep a Work Journal" by Jessica Stillman. 
Journaling on the Job 
You might think this is a little unconventional. You might say, “Journals are for tween girls and writers,” and I suppose that’s true, but journals offer up a myriad of ways to help people of all kindsfrom writers to travellers to health nuts, and yes, even businesspeople. It turns out that it might really help people who do work of any kind; in fact, I’ve been doing this exercise for the last year and a half, ever since I began working in publishing.
The crux of the articleand the scientific study it was written aboutis this (though I highly recommend you read it yourself, too): take 15 minutes at the end of every workday to reflect upon your daywhat you accomplished, what worked, what didn’t, whether or not you prioritized well and so on. This will really help to make you more self-aware.
This is important because taking the time to reflect upon yourself and your work boosts your “self-efficacy.” Basically, you feel more confident in your achievements because you can see them lined up on the paper in front of you. In turn, this causes you to put more effort into and take more pride in what you do and what you learn.
For example, I use my journal as a to-do list. I can keep track of projects from day to day and all the information is recorded there if I ever need to refer back to it. I also use my journal (as the article outlines) as a way to evaluate my work. It really is satisfying when you can put a checkmark next to a task. For me, I feel confident that I completed the task and that gives me some extra motivation to tackle the next one. It’s a great feeling at the end of the day to reflect back and realize I’ve accomplished all the things I wanted to do.
Writing things in my journal also helps me remember things that I need to do (important as an employee, wouldn’t you say?). I’m not shy about my scatter-brained nature, and journaling not only provides me with a physical list of tasks I must finish, but as the article points out,  actually writing things down helps me to visualize what the important things are.
Lastly, journaling helps me track my stress levels. If I see my page is covered in scribbles as opposed to neat writing, if I’m noticing that I’m working on a lot of different things but completing none of them, that’s a sign I need to maybe take some time to relax and refocus.
Fifteen Minutes a Day
So consider giving journaling a try. For 15 minutes a day, you don’t really have much to lose but you could have a lot to gain. Measuring your performance at work shouldn’t be just about how many hours you put in; it should also be about how valued and satisfied you feel about the work you do.
Journaling might just have the power to point that out to you.