March 14, 2019 Last updated March 11th, 2019 385 Reads share

10 ways work diaries help performance

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A troubled employee

I recall a troubled employee I have seen years ago who just couldn’t put their head around work. They were distracted, struggling with anxiety and not able to focus. This employee was at the brink of termination and their line manager wanted to keep hold of them no matter what because they know that they are a talented asset for the organization.

So, after many talks and meetings with the manager and employee, I suggested that this employee starts writing in a work diary.

What is a work diary?

Work diaries are journals where you can write about your day to day experiences in a private and safe place reflecting on your professional life. It is where you can write new ideas, complaints, compliments, setting your own milestones and more.

It’s different from diaries we used to write when we were children and teenagers, where we start with “Dear Diary”, spill all our personal emotions and talk to it as if it was our best friend. Work diaries are more career-oriented and focus on your professional development.

What does a work diary look like?

Work diaries come in all shapes and sizes. They can be:

  • A notebook of your choice, with blank pages or ruled
  • Papers bound together
  • An app on your smartphone
  • A programme on your computer
  • A board, a white or blackboard

Writing is therapy

Writing, in general, is a great way to pour our thoughts, ideas and mind scribble onto paper to become readable and tangible. Psychologist Dr. Jane McCartney says that “Writing something down stops things from going around and around in our heads. This puts things in perspective, it stops you from obsessing and can help us make sense of our jumble of thoughts and feelings. If you are not a writer, don’t worry. You can doodle, do mind maps or lists. It doesn’t have to be formal.”

In our busy and hectic lives, we often forget to sit with ourselves and practice this simple habit. But when we become overloaded with everyday stress, it builds up in our bodies and just like a pressure cooker, we could explode unless we release the tension and steam through the security valve, which can be writing.

Writing in a work diary shouldn’t be a hefty task. You can appoint at least 10 minutes a day to write, draw or list what you experienced yesterday, what you endured today and what you will encounter tomorrow.

Work diaries and their benefits on performance

Using a work diary helps to increase your work performance efficiently in so many ways by:

1.      Enabling you to focus

Distractions are focus’s worst enemy. Therefore, recording signs of disruption helps you to figure out how to overcome them. In addition to that, pointing out the highlights of your day will make you more determined to achieve them, hence saying goodbye to any interruptions and hello to full attention.

2.      Boosting productivity

Your work diary can get your important tasks done constantly because you are able to measure the efficiency of yourself completing a task. Mental and physical elements play a role in fostering productivity like exercising, eating healthily, and sleeping well.

3.      Allowing personal development

Identifying your strength and weakness points in your journal makes you very aware of them. You would then work towards allocating your strength points to where it fits best and work on developing and improving your weak points.

4.      Revealing areas for change

You may notice in your work diary that you are working in a pattern that is not healthy for yourself, your work or your organization. You can change this curve by applying new methods and practices in order to achieve your goals.

5.      Pushing your motivation levels

Every individual has different triggers to push their motivation levels. It could be extrinsic, like reading a book that inspired you, or intrinsic, like the feeling you get after Yoga. Your work diary can act as reminders to reflect those triggers and stay motivated.

6.      Encouraging patience

Wanted ambitions and desires need to be nurtured by hard work and patience as “all good things for those who wait.” Work diaries tend to numb one’s eagerness to rush things and show them the bigger picture in the end.

7.      Planning and setting goals

Work diaries are perfect tools to plan ahead and set SMART goals. They can contain weekly, monthly and yearly calendars to spread out and outline your objectives in an effective manner.

8.      Realizing what went wrong

If mistakes occur in your work, you can study the reasons for these errors by looking back in your work diary. After knowing the reasons of these flaws, you can stop them from happening again and then make a corrective action to mend the inconveniences.

9.      Managing time and organizing tasks

Effective time management is an active process that creates, divides and allocates time. It is an important element for your work diary and helps with establishing an A star performance. Organizing your tasks effectively maintains optimum control over your activities especially if you prioritize them correctly.

10.  Expressing your ideas and unleashing your creativity

Can you recall how many times a light bulb went on over your head? Anna Quindlen says, “Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.” If these raw ideas were written down immediately on your work diary, it would have grown into something real. So, always experiment with these ideas and water them with aspiration and passion to create something unique. They will eventually top-up your work performance!

Conclusion

Remember the troubled employee I mentioned in the beginning?

They got an A3 notebook, started spilling all their thoughts and unfinished assignments and worked side by side with their line manager. With the help of a work diary, this employee pulled themselves together and paid full attention to work. After 3 months, the unit’s performance they are working in had an increase of 4% and they came up with a new product solution that was raised to the head of the department.

So, invest in writing or drawing in a work diary, and your success story will hopefully emerge from it.

 marketing concept with digital pen

Mona Kay

Mona Kay

Mona Kay is a Learning and Development Manager at Knowledge Train®, a training company in London providing courses accredited by AXELOS, APMG, PMI, BCS, APM Group and DevOps Institute.

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