Asian woman happy about her progress and journaling in her work diary

Why You Should Start Having a Work Diary to Track Your Career Progression

The leverage of journaling and documenting your day-to-day evokes the memory of that prepubescent stage in your life. You felt most comfortable when you poured your feelings out onto a piece of paper until it was time to leave it behind and put on those adult pants.


Years after, who would have thought that this old hobby and memories with your diary could actually contribute to personal wellness in your professional development? After years of experience with that single-lined notebook with its small delicate lock on its side, why don’t we put that to use by taking on a new level of tracking your career progression?


Individual writing down goals


The tiny notebook that you used to hide from your nosy sibling can take on many forms now. Some would call it a journal, others call it a planner, but here we would refer to it as a work diary. This work diary could stretch across digital spaces as well as a physical copy. However, whatever you decide to land on, the intentions behind your reason to document your records are of the essence. Here are some reasons why you should start having a work diary to track your career progression (and how).


1. Boosting Creativity with Idea Logs

A lightbulb will not always light up over your head. When you’re lucky enough to catch all of your thoughts, you’re able to utilize one that you might want to pursue. However, your brain gets tired from scrounging for new ideas, and it leaves you in bewilderment.


Muslim woman reading her writing


Well, the answer to this perplexing problem is simple. Jotting down ideas could open up new potentials to them being used in future projects then you wouldn’t need to scavenge your entire thought process for one feasible idea. Instead, you can revisit your work diary and use the creative ones you already established.


In this way, you’re not letting those ideas slip through your fingers. Now, the chances are that you wouldn’t need to encounter a tip-of-the-tongue moment. The person on the receiving end is going to gauge your creativity in your new high margin business plan. Once you take down a few of those jumbled-up ideas in your brain to paper, maybe even a domino effect would start. Maybe a few more ideas would come to you. Your work diary would be your greatest friend when you’re finding ways of composing, building, and refining ideas.


2. Learning Lessons

Work experience is the time you’ve spent at a workplace learning the job role in a career sector. Even after many years of leaving a job, you’re still able to recall vaguely the scope and tasks the company requires you to perform every day.


Asian girl frustrated with failed attempt and noting down


However, what about personal and professional development? What about the time when your anxiety wrecks your nerves while preparing for that annual review, you were expected to reflect on the past year and gather all relevant evidence prior to the meeting?


Surely, some hiccups in the future set you off your tracks and make you forget about those small accomplishments or mistakes. Whether you’ve nailed a client meeting or stumbled horribly through a sales presentation, you should pull out that work diary and take note of every lesson learned. When you’re able to write down your experiences of what you’ve gone through or highlight what worked and what didn’t, you’re setting yourself ahead for the future. So, in the future, analysing a familiar situation would come easily to you. Besides, there will be so much professional success when you do so, it wouldn’t kill to spend a few minutes writing for a rewarding outcome.


3. Envisioning a Future

Were there ever times where you found yourself stuck in your routine? You fight to conjure resilience in the face of adversity, in this case, they’re your seemingly impossible goals and expectations. An easy fix for that is to write about the opportunities you see for your growth. In turn, you can use that narrative to inspire and design a roadmap to your future goals. Knowing where you want to go and how you can get there is key.


Asian woman happy about her future progress and journaling in her work diary


I’m sure using social media is a norm to everyone now, so sharing our experiences publicly does not feel foreign to us. Nevertheless, writing down your career experiences and thought processes in a private and safe space has a colossal difference. As compared to posting your thoughts on public forums or sharing them at lunch with your favourite colleagues.


You’re in a better position to analyse your profession when it’s just you and your work diary. You can reflect upon your existing experiences and goals. As a result, it makes it easier to construct a new vision board for yourself. From boosting your networking abilities to improving your productivity numbers, it makes you start planning the next few steps to take to advance your career while cultivating much-needed optimism. The overall sense of happiness is sufficient energy for your hunger to strive and become the fuel that keeps you going.


How to Keep a Work Diary?

1. Writing It Daily

Practising the art of writing daily means you’re able to turn it into a habit quicker with a concrete grasp of the progress you’ve made.


Ethnic man at a desk and writing in his diary for work


Before you head to work, you can take a few minutes of your morning (or whatever time you start your day) to write an entry of—

  1. Important tasks that require your urgent attention
  2. Your goals for the day
  3. Your daily log update


When the day ends, jot down a few of your biggest accomplishments from the day. These include things you’re grateful for, lessons you’ve learnt, or even journal your stress. Then, write what’s the next best thing you’re going to do. Whether it be a few minutes of writing a to-do list while brushing your pearly whites or staying back after office hours. It is to cross things off on those same lists.


This would help you to stay on par with your expected progression timescale. What’s more, you make certain that slacking off doesn’t theft off your success. At the end of the week, you can review the entries that you have made. This is to make sure that you’ve been spending enough time on all the right things and giving your ample attention. If you find that you’ve been off base, then that’s when you know it’s time to give your current goals some re-evaluation. Moreover, you can even try to readjust the purpose of your role.


2. Writing It Weekly/ Monthly

Now that you’ve been writing for a while now, your work diary is starting to get a little chaotic. Fret not, because you can use a monthly calendar for the year all together in the front of your work diary. Find a layout that works best for you, knowing where everything goes in the layout is very important. This will ensure that you stay organized when your life isn’t at that moment.


The calendar is one of the most felicitous features of a work diary. This is because it is great for looking at your upcoming plans at a glance. It prevents you from interrupting your workflow as you can easily slip in an unforeseen task change through your day by simply referencing this calendar. It also gives you an overall look. Such as how much you’ve progressed and what have you been doing to achieve that. Without a doubt, this can work as a reminder to touch base with yourself on your progress. In turn, you’re able to see how you’ve grown over the months.


3. Writing It Quarterly

At times, it’s only normal for us to feel lost even with proper direction. This is when the reviewing time comes around, gaining an insight into raw data from the laundry list of completed tasks. A quarterly update on your work diary can be the basis of aiding that exact feeling.


Asian business woman looking at laptop


It’s time to get deep in thought about your goals for the upcoming quarters. It could involve revising anything that’s needed based on your progress thus far this quarter. Do not be biased with what you desire and do what’s right for you on the most rational note. Though that may not be the most compelling story, you are able to at the very least find out what changes need to be made on your radar. Evolve your role by noting your check-ins based on a ‘more of this, less of that’ basis. Thus, a positive tone yet constructive feedback is kept throughout your work diary. Then, the real growth moment will start to show.



Keeping a work diary may be something out of your equilibrium, but I digress. Salivating at success will not give you that free express ticket. However, fostering this routine paves a way for new opportunities to arise and entails achievements that lie ahead of your desired goals. Now, you can look forward to pioneering a new lifestyle niche in your work life!


For further reading, check out these articles on a beginner’s guide to bullet journaling that isn’t intimidating and tips to help you stay on track with your daily tasks when you’re too busy.

5'1" but with the zealousness of an NBA player's height. Codependent on all my Spotify playlists to get me through the day.

Comments (3)

  • Cheong

    Never really thought about the importance of having a work diary! What a great read!

  • Nick Lee

    I could definitely relate when you mentioned the anxiety before an annual review haha.

  • Nur Anis Diana

    I’ve been itching to start a bullet journal but it just seems so intimidating. However, reading through this article taught me one important thing and that is: FOCUS – What do you want your journal to be about? And the lovely thing about bullet journals is how it should be tailored to our needs and could be customized every month.

    Thanks Edrea!


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