If someone were to ask you what your individual or team goals are, and your progress against them, could you answer confidently?
Many companies rely on end-of-year performance reviews, competency assessments, or OKR tracking tools.
Very few have unlocked the full potential of workplace journaling, and it’s about time we all caught on…
What is workplace journaling?
Much like writing a personal journal, workplace journaling is a structured, ongoing practice of documenting, reflecting, and tracking your work-related decisions and experiences.
By recording as much detail as possible, more information is available to reflect and plan.
It’s a habit that can increase your efficiency and effectiveness at work because you can reflect and document your experiences and learnings.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to journaling, you can use a regular notebook or digital tools with helpful templates, but keep reading for useful tips to get started.
What are the benefits of workplace journaling?
Regular journaling forces you to examine your thoughts, feelings, and motivations which fosters a strong sense of self-understanding and helps you identify patterns and areas for improvement. And who doesn’t love a bit of self-improvement?!
The benefits don’t stop there either. Journaling is proven to improve emotional intelligence and empathy and enhance interpersonal relationships to create more collaborative and supportive work environments.
Top Tip: Journal your experience, thoughts, and feelings immediately after a job interview. This will help you better understand areas to improve and better prepare for the next one.
By reflecting on your daily tasks and goals, you’ll begin to identify time-consuming or inefficient processes, enabling you to streamline your workflow and enhance productivity. So you might even find yourself finishing on time!
Top Tip: Take a few minutes to create a big-picture overview of tasks to help clear your mind at the start of the day. Consider asking yourself:
- What are the most important tasks I need to accomplish today?
- What is one thing I can do towards X goal?
- What might prevent me from meeting X goal?
Journaling helps you break down complex problems into manageable steps, facilitating a more methodical and effective approach to problem-solving.
Top Tip: First define the problem you’re facing, break it down into smaller problems, and ask yourself some open-ended questions such as:
- What is the root cause of the problem?
- What are the various contributing factors to the issue?
- What are the potential consequences of this problem if left unresolved?
Sharpened communication skills
Reflecting on your interactions with colleagues and clients can help you to identify communication patterns that are effective or could be improved, promoting better teamwork and relationships.
Top Tip: Reflect on past conversations, examine recurring patterns and then develop a communication goal. For example, is it to improve your active listening skills, enhance your ability to concisely convey your ideas, or become comfortable speaking in public?
Track progress and goals
Journaling can serve as a record of your personal and team goals and achievements, allowing you to track your progress against company objectives and your professional goals to make those end-of-year reviews a breeze.
Top Tip: Suffering from a bit of imposter syndrome, or got an interview or networking event coming up? Look back on the progress you’ve made for a confidence boost.
Manage stress and anxiety
Journaling provides a really safe space to express emotions and process challenging experiences, helping you to manage stress and maintain emotional well-being in the workplace.
A study by the University of California found that employees who engaged in journaling were more likely to experience an ‘aha!’ moment and generate new ideas.
That’s because work journals are a great way to capture those elusive creative thoughts. By jotting down your ideas as they come to you, you can avoid losing them later whilst remaining focused on the task in front of you.
Top tip: Got a bit of creative block? Look back at your past ideas to spark a new train of thought.
Tips for successful workplace journaling
Journaling is all about creating a new habit, and like any new habit, it can be difficult to get started.
Try these tried and test tips:
Find a dedicated time
The key here is consistency. Dedicate a specific time each day, or week. It’s always best to start small, so consider 10-15-minute slots.
Set a comfortable space
Find a quiet and distraction-free environment where you can focus on your thoughts and reflections. One where you won’t be distracted by office gossip or the poor music choices of your colleagues. Consider putting your emails and IMs on mute whilst you dedicate some time for self-reflection.
Start with open-ended prompts
Using a template that uses open-ended questions can help to kick-start your thoughts. Consider asking yourself about your experiences that day, challenges and goals. For instance, what went well or didn’t go so well.
The beauty of journaling is it’s just for you. There is no right or wrong. Allow your thoughts to flow freely without judgment or editing (yep, leave that typo be). This approach is the best way to open up your mind and spark new insights and ideas.
Review past journal entries
Workplace journaling isn’t just about offloading your thoughts and experiences that day. Regularly, visit your past journal entries track your progress and start to identify any patterns.
How to implement workplace journaling
If you’re a Manager looking to better support and develop your team, or you’re a HR professional looking for ways to improve the employee experience, journaling is an easy, cost-effective way to do just that.
Whilst workplace journaling largely relies on the individual, there are steps you can take to effectively implement workplace journaling into your organisation:
It all starts with education. Ensure your employees are aware of the benefits of workplace journaling, emphasise its role in their personal and professional growth and provide tips for success. Wherever possible, use real-life experiences from colleagues who are already reaping the benefits of workplace journaling.
Provide prompts and resources
Offer employees a collection of structured journaling prompts tailored to various workplace scenarios. This might include reflecting on team dynamics, handling difficult conversations, or overcoming challenges.
Provide resources on journaling techniques, tips for effective reflection, and examples of how journaling benefits others in the workplace.
Incorporate journaling into your training programs
Integrate journaling exercises into existing training programs or workshops. For instance, encourage journaling during leadership training to facilitate self-reflection on leadership styles and the decision-making processes.
Organise journaling circles
Create opportunities for employees to engage in group journaling sessions. These circles can foster a sense of community and provide a safe space to share experiences and encourage peer-to-peer learning.
Promote journaling as a personal development tool
Encourage employees to incorporate journaling into their personal development plans. Provide guidance on how to track progress and identify areas for growth through journaling.
Respect privacy and confidentiality
Emphasise the importance of privacy and confidentiality when engaging in workplace journaling. Encourage employees to keep their personal journals secure and respect the privacy of others, this is particularly important if you’re encouraging them to use a journaling tool offered by your company.
Seek feedback and continuously improve
It’s important you continually understand the impact journaling is having.Gather feedback about their experiences. Are they struggling to allocate time, or get the ball rolling? Use this feedback to redefine journaling prompts, resources, and support mechanisms.
Lead by example
This one is a biggie.
You need to demonstrate your own journaling experiences, or the experiences of leaders to encourage participation and ensure your employees really understand the value.
“It’s about actively engaging in self-reflection, learning from your experiences, and developing your personal and professional skills.” – Tara Sophia Mohr
A workplace journal can be a really powerful tool in both your personal and your team’s career development.
By being intentional, you better understand where you’ve been and where you need to go whilst reaping some pretty great benefits along the way.