In a previous post, I wrote about some good reasons to keep work journals.  What I didn’t talk about was how I do exactly that.  Let’s talk, first, about how to keep the journal and then, second, we can talk about how I record information in the work journal.

Where Do I Keep My Work Journal?

I have kept/keep work journals in two different tools:

  1. Google Drive.  For years, I kept my work journal in a Google Doc.  I would create a directory in Drive for Work Journals.  Then, a subdirectory for a year.  In the subdirectory for the year (like, for this year, the 2018 subdirectory), I would create new docs for each month.
  2. Basecamp.  Until recently, I wasn’t using this so well.  Basecamp was set to remind me to journal at 5pm at which point I was leaving work.  So I moved the “What did you get done today?” reminder to the morning and continue to revise all day long.

Other tools would work just the same (Office365) and might be more efficient depending upon your provided office tools.  Basecamp is free for academics.

What Do I Track?

Here’s what I track when I’m working in my journal:

  • Parts of a project or task that I worked on or the whole completed task.  These could include work-related projects (reports, documents, research, grading, etc.) or mundane things that just have to happen (composing minute meetings, website updates, approving student worker minutes, credit card reconciliations, etc.)
  • Coordinating tasks with student workers, grad assistants, or other colleagues.
  • Phone calls (whether I contact the person or not)
  • Emails (because they take thought and energy to compose)
  • Meetings (full faculty meetings, committee meetings, advisee meetings, etc.)

Basically, if it takes my time for my job (regardless of where I’m at), I journal it.  I find that I remember way more of what I did and on what day I did it, when I do this.

How and How Many?

The “how” is so much more simple:  I use an enumerated list.  The first thing I do in the day is the first item; The last thing I do is, well, the last.

How many items on my list do I hope to record?  More than 20. But, some days, I do 10 and have worked hard all day long.  Some day I get 30 done and it’s all lightweight (necessary but light).



The work journal is one of my most prized tools–it really helps me.

How do you use your work journal?  What do you do differently?

How I Maintain My Work Journal

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