Don’t scoff … the power of journaling!

One of the useful articles we reference in the DiA program is an HBR article called ‘Inner Work Life’. In this article, Professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer found that the number one driver of a positive inner work life, the key to motivated, engaged, and productive employees, is making progress on meaningful work, even if that progress is a small win. (Click here to access our article summary.)

journalRecently we came across a video by the author of this article – confirming the value of the lessons learned in the ‘Inner Work Life’ research but also sharing the value of making time to journal / reflective practice. In a recent 99U conference talk, Professor Amabile shared the best way to achieve those small wins and leverage the progress principle for ourselves – in our daily lives: is to keep a work diary.

Most of us screw up our faces when we are told we should keep a journal! However Professor Amabile suggests these benefits can be realised by making time – even 10 minutes a day – to write down our thoughts:

1. It helps us to capture progress that may have been lost in a busy workday. This helps us to feel we are moving forward, and helps us to celebrate the small wins.

2. It can help us get our thinking in order, helping us to plan next steps, think things through, and overcome setbacks.

3. Making time to ‘make sense of things’ can help you to nurture your own personal growth. It can also help you to work through and learn from difficult events.

4. Taking time to review our reflections, helps us to spot patterns in your reactions and behaviours. This can help you to know yourself more, to help you identify your greatest strengths and where there are opportunities to improve.

5. Professor Amabile also suggests reflection can help you to find patience. Why? Because you can always look back and see how you persevered and survived much worse days.


Tips for Keeping a Work Diary

  • start small – try it for a month, start with one issue once a day
  • target a time of day – find a time when you have 10 minutes of uninterrupted time
  • load a memory trigger – eg a repeating alarm in the diary, or a pen and paper by your bedside
  • find your medium – a beautiful book or an online application that makes it easy
  • refresh and reflect – give yourself 1-2 minutes before you write to slow down, then reflect on your workday. What stands out?
  • write / doodle / sketch / sing about … – capture in any form – it doesn’t need to be words


Click here to access the video sharing Professor Amabile’s insights on the value of making time for reflection.

Click here to access a blog that shares ideas about an app that can help make the act of making time for reflection easier and fun! idonethis    (for eg. it creates great word clouds at the end of the month to help you see patterns!)


Other apps participants have recommended – DayOne, Momento, OneNote, EverNote