Guide to Keeping a Work Journal (with downloadable template)

Keeping a journal at work can be your secret weapon against missed meetings, details, or bad performance reviews. Whether you are an employee or self-employed, you can improve your productivity and performance at work by keeping a journal.

I have maintained personal and professional journals for past 5+ years and in this post I want to share the work journal template. In my previous article, I shared a more general daily journal template and this article I will share a work specific one.  I will also share what I’ve learned about successfully keeping a work journal.

What Makes a Good Work Journal Template

A good work Journal template or routine will allow you to accomplish the following:

  • Capture: A place to capture work related information – meeting notes, deadlines, action items, important information, and countless other bits of information that are best stored on a paper instead of your brain.
  • Articulate: A place where you can articulate the information. For example, sketching out a diagram to understand what is being explained to you.
  • Self-Reflect and Growth: This is the most critical part of keeping a successful journal for work. Your ability to self-reflect and learn from your experiences will constantly improve your skill and productivity at work.

In summary, a work journal is like a storage drive which allows you to capture, process, and articulate information with the help of your brain. Therefore, your brain does the job of thinking while the journal (with the help of your hands) does the job of a permanent hard drive.

Breakdown of the Work Journal Template

Now that we understand what makes a good template for work journal, let me jump into the specifics of a work journal template.

My work journal template
An entry from my work journal – May 30th, 2017

Above, is an actual snapshot of my work journal template. I have constantly evolved it overtime and will continue to evolve it. I encourage you to do the same and use my template only as a guide to get started. Also, it is important to know the pros and cons of a structured vs a free-flow journal. With that aside, here is the breakdown of the work journal template (by the numbers on the image):

Part 1 – The Quote and Gratitude

I write this part early in the morning (before the hustle bustle of work) so that I can keep my focus on the big picture. I consider this section essential as it allows you to appreciate the small things in your life.

Part 2 – Outcome-Based Goals

This is where you write out your goals at work. These should be planned and written at the start of the day so you can make progress towards them by the end of the day.

Part 3 – Unplanned Work

This is where you write down work that comes up. For example, your boss wants you to run a quick errand or your co-worker needs help. Your goal should be to finish and record these activities as fast as possible so you can go back to your Outcome-Based Goals (Part 2) – the work you planned to get done.

Part 4 – Personal Notes

Throughout the day things may pop-up in your head that you may want to personally get done. For example, grab bread on the way back home or read a book. This section is focused about your personal growth and should be an essential part of your work journal.

Part 5 – Stickies & Misc

Sometimes the goal or task at hand has many sub-tasks and that is when I use a sticky to write it out and track my progress towards it.

Part 6 – Monthly Experiment

This is the section where I remind myself what personal growth experiment I am focused on for this day, week, or month. For example, in the above journal entry, I was (and still am) focused on “essential-ism focus” – a fancy way to say to focus on one thing and one thing only.

That sums up the breakdown of my work journal. In addition to my journal, I still use digital task management app (i-e Trello). In future posts (or upon request), I hope to expand on how to use your physical journal and a digital task management app side-by-side to get more work done. If you want more detailed guide to write each of the above parts, please subscribe to my email list and I will send you resources and video guides.

Download a Template for Keeping a Work Journal

Here is a downloadable link to the work journal template mentioned above;

Download Work Journal Template (.docx, .pdf) via Google Docs

8 comments On Guide to Keeping a Work Journal (with downloadable template)

  • I’m interested in email updates.

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  • I am curious about this journal keeping and want to use this tactic to help build on the team I have. How do I start?

    • Misty, good question. Please do write to us with more details about your team (how many, type of team, goal etc) and I will be happy to give you guidelines and tips.

  • Thank you!

  • I was looking at journaling and came across your post I found it refreshing and will start my journaling journey soon with a focus on reflection.
    Would love to receive more content from you to help me build my experience with journaling

  • Thank for this article!!
    I am currently dealing with a a very difficult the coworker at my workplace was wondering if you can help me with the best template for a journal for difficult coworkers.

    • Jeffery, good question and a difficult one to deal with.
      Here are some journaling tips that might me of help;
      1. Create two sections – one section for “things in your control” and the other section for “things outside your control”. Now, under each section, write down what you can do about it. For example, under “things you can control” write all that you can do to deal with this situation. These things might include like talking to a trusted manager, managing your mindfulness and breathing so that you don’t take the stress onto yourself.
      2. Remind yourself to breathe and be mindful as you go through the difficult times at work – this will not help remove the situation, however, will help with minimizing the impact of the unpleasant situations at work.

      These tips (alongside with your effort to make things better at work), should improve the situation.

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