As ALL CAPS gets rolling I’ve been digging into my work journals for reminders on my past research. Going through a journal is a wormhole just like YouTube, Wikipedia, and everything else on the internet. I relive different times of my career when I read those old entries and I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t bring on all sorts of feels.
I started journaling my architecture career in 2013 and quickly realized that I wished I’d started much earlier. I remember I was motivated to journal from somebody at Harvard Business Review talking about how they journaled and how it helped them grow. I don’t remember the specific article or podcast, but they have a ton of good material on journaling that I still reference from time to time.
My journal setup is for weekly entries using a template for each entry because I figured out early on that’s what worked best for me. Both the template setup and the software I’ve used to journal (it’s always been a digital endeavor) have evolved over the years. It’s important to note that the template evolved because I wanted to evoke more thoughtful reflection from myself as I journaled. The software evolved strictly for convenience and functionality.
My current template has a heading where I enter the dates at the beginning and end of the week. Then three sections below that for my thoughts on the week:
- Failures/Things to Learn From
Those sections are self-explanatory, except maybe Experiences. That section is where I get into my feelings on the first two sections and anything else salient that happened that week, good or bad. This is the therapeutic section of my journal. The first two sections are more practical reflections.
This effort started in a run-on text document because that was easy at a time when I just wanted to get it going. Then I divided that text into volumes by year and employer. Later the text moved to journaling apps. It’s all searchable to help quickly find specific topics or entries too.
Doing all this has undoubtedly made me a better architect, businessperson, and manager. Journaling has helped me improve my customer service skills and my technical skills by being open and honest with myself through writing, which is super difficult, but also very powerful.
Something else I found was that journaling using the format I describe here helped me immensely with the quality of my self-assessments during annual reviews with my past employers. Journals like this make it easy to remember everything you accomplished and what you need to work on improving. Before the journal it was really frustrating to try and remember a whole year’s worth of highlights (and lowlights).
Do you journal your career?