Last summer, I had to keep a daily well-being journal for one of my graduate courses. The only requirement was that at the end of the course, we had to turn in our journals and answer some questions about our experience with them. These were the questions:

  • Which workday events are most memorable to me, and how did they shape my experience of the day?
  • What did I accomplish today and how did it make me feel?
  • What essential things am I lacking that are necessary for me to continue my work tomorrow?
  • What is the most important task I can complete tomorrow to make progress on my goals?
  • What challenges did I face today, and how did they influence my productivity? What lessons can I take from them?
  • What held me back and prevented me from being productive today? How can I make tomorrow better?
  • How can I positively influence my colleagues’ work lives tomorrow?

At the end of every workday, I take a few minutes to reflect on what happened. Without fail, a few key events always stand out to me that I want to address. Often, I find myself diverging from the standard questions and addressing issues that I wasn’t even aware existed. This tool has helped me pinpoint communication errors, enhance relationships with colleagues, and learn to be a better listener.

After the term ended, I continued to open up a Word document every afternoon to reflect on my day. Not only did I enjoy the activity, but it also helped me become more aware and decisive.

A work-oriented journal can help you create a successful career. Why not give it a try for a week or even a month? See if it makes a difference for you. It was interesting for me to read my entries from the weeks when I had been stressed about a small detail that eventually went away or overwhelmed with a new project that, in retrospect, turned out great. I also realized while re-reading my journal that many of my issues could have been avoided if I had communicated better and worked more cohesively with those around me.

The questions I asked are general enough that they can apply to anyone. You can also create more specific questions related to your job or field. Inquiring “What went well today?” at the end of each day in my journal keeps me concentrated on the positive.

If you keep a daily journal, do you think it’s helping or hindering your productivity? We want to know what you think in the comments below!

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