Work Diaries, Activity Logs, or Activity Diaries are becoming more and more common in workplaces. Simply put, if they are not yet a requirement at your workplace, you should still consider starting one. Working in many types of roles (hospitality, IT, retail, security, emergency etc.) you may have to keep a log of events as part of your role. This normally logs any different or suspicious activity, when checks were completed, when/if things occur and who was present at the time.
Should I keep a Daily Work Log or Diary? What are the benefits?
MindTools explains, “An Activity Log (also known as an Activity Diary or a Work Diary) is a written record of how you spend your time.”
By keeping a Work Diary for a few weeks, you can build up an accurate picture of what you do during the day, and how you invest your time. You’ll find that memory is not always an accurate guide, so keeping a Diary or Log can bring things to your attention that you may otherwise miss.
Good or bad – it should go in your daily work log
Work Diaries can be a great way of listing your achievements, or of highlighting where things in the workplace are not functioning as well as they should be, for example, if an area is understaffed or overcrowded on a regular basis.
LifeHacker says, “A Diary or Log of the day’s events at the workplace can provide a valuable record of the things that went well, mistakes you made and how you addressed them, and successes worth highlighting in your next performance review.” Use your daily work log for this reason.
Also, you can check back to your Work Diary or Activity Log at another time to gain an understanding of your professional growth. This also allows you to think back to your achievements over the next days, weeks and months.”
Can keeping a Work Diary help improve your performance at work?
Jessica Stillman has written an excellent post where she discusses the value of using a Work Diary, called Why You Should Keep a Work Journal. Essentially, she quotes a study done by The HBR Blog Network that points out that “keeping regular Work Diaries, which took no more than ten minutes a day, gave many of our participants a new perspective on themselves as professionals and what they needed to improve.” Put simply, a Work Diary can help to keep you and your goals on track, and help to illustrate when things aren’t. Your daily work log is essential for this.
Here’s how Stillman suggests to begin, with three essential parts to consider.
#1: Set out to record general events
- What events stand out in my mind from the workday, and how did they affect my professional work life?
- Did any happen that was unusual or unexpected?
#2: See what’s working in your working day/night
- What progress did I make today, and how did it affect my professional work life?
- What one thing can I do to make progress on my important work tomorrow?
- What factors and people supported me and my work today? How can I sustain them tomorrow?
#3: See what is not working on the job
- What toxins and inhibitors affected me and my work today? How can I weaken or avoid them tomorrow?
- What setbacks did I have today, and how did they affect my professional work life? What can I learn from them?
The elements of a useful Activity Log or Work Diary
To have an accurate Work Diary – you need to make sure that all these things are included. The good news is, there are many apps and smartphone programs which will help you log this sort of information on the fly.
- Activity description.
- How I feel.
- Things to note
- Value (high, medium, low, none).
A few apps that can help you keep a Work Diary
Yes, a good old fashioned notepad and pen will work just fine, if that’s what you prefer. In many cases, this can even be the best option as notepads never run out of batteries, can be purchased in small or large sizes and are super cheap.
However, there are a few apps you may find useful.
Diaro is designed to record activities, experiences, thoughts and ideas throughout a day and sync data across all your devices.
Penzu allows you to take your journal wherever you go with apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android phones & tablets.
Day One makes it easy to quickly enter your thoughts and memories and have them synced and backed up in the cloud.
RedNotebook lets you format, tag and search your entries. You can also add pictures, links and customisable templates and export to plain text, HTML, Latex or PDF.
Evernote lets you create a project to-do list. Jot down a reminder or snap a picture of a sketch and once you make a note, it’s accessible wherever you go.