How I keep a Business Journal and why I do it

Written by  //  April 4, 2013  //  Daily Juice  //  No comments

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Here’s something that I’ve been doing for about six months and am loving. It’s easy and useful and I think you’ll like it too.


It’s keeping a business journal.

I sort of alluded to this back in January in this post where I mentioned Day One. But I didn’t go into much detail then ‘cos I was still only 3 months into having a go myself. Now that I’m an old timer (having been doing it all of six months) I thought I’d share what I’m doing with my business journal and how it’s helping me.

What is a business journal?

Well it’s is a little like the 5 year diary you may have kept as a kid, except this version is punchier, more purposeful and (hopefully) less angst ridden. I hope that’s not put you off. I’ll explain why it’s so useful in a minute but first….

Here’s how I keep mine.

1. I use an app called Day One to keep my journal. There’s no need to get this – I only do it because it keeps it handy and I can fill it in on my phone at the end of the day. A paper diary with half a page for a day would work just as well. Or you can just keep a log in a word document. On that note though, the thing I like about a diary (paper or online) is that it’s very noticeable if you miss a day  – and that alone forces me to write it!

2. I don’t write much each day. I quickly found that if I set myself too much to write I don’t bother at all, so now I just jot down the following:

a. Three things I’m pleased I’ve done
b. One thing that’s gone really well
c. A smile
d. A whinge
e. Something I’ve learned

3. The ‘three things I’m pleased I’ve done” is usually just three things off my todo list. I try to make sure they’re the important todos, the ‘right’ work – rather than just processing stuff. But they’re not massive things  – so one of my ‘three things’ for today will be writing this blog post. Sometimes I don’t have three things. That’s fine. Sometimes one good thing is enough.

4. I try to find one thing that’s gone really well in each day. Some days there are many to choose from and other days it’s a little more of a stretch. But there is always something!

5. So while something that has gone really well means ‘really well’ in my opinion. A ‘smile’ is when I get some type of affirmation from someone about my business who is a little less biased than me! It’s the sort of stuff that goes in the smile file and the good things jar. Of course these don’t necessarily happen every day but it’s good to look out for them, and again, these things don’t have to be momentous – they can be as simple as the way a customer says thank you.

6. There are plenty of times when I’d like to have a good old whinge about something (or somebody!) but I try not to do it. Much. Anyway I’ve found it really useful to write my whinges down in my business journal. Gets it off my chest without burdening someone else’s. I certainly don’t have a whinge for every day – I just pop it down if there is one.

7. I’d be lying if I said I learned something notable every day. I don’t. But most days – if I look hard enough  – I can find a little something that I’ve learned. Writing it down – however small – helps cement it in my mind. Otherwise, and I hate to say it, I can quickly forget the useful info I’ve gleaned.

So that’s what I do. Why do I do it? Well this is what I get out of it:

A sense of accomplishment. Even when I can only think of one thing in a day that I’m pleased I’ve done, I feel good that I’ve done it. I also love flicking back over the last few months a the “three thing” and then I get a real sense that yes, I am actually getting stuff done!
Doing stuff. Just knowing that I need to write down three things I’m pleased I’ve done forces to me work on those things rather than, say, playing on Facebook for an hour.
A view on what’s working and what’s not. I’m not a natural reflector – I tend to get on with stuff and keep moving forward but I’m not very good at stopping and thinking about whether what I have done, worked. Having to write down, daily, something that’s gone really well and something I’ve learned has really helped me to actually stop and think about what I’m doing rather than just charging on ahead regardless.
Pride. Writing about a ‘smile’ in my business journal is like being able to tell someone about it without having to worry about it sounding like a brag.
A record of useful stuff I’ve learned. As I said above, my memory is a bit iffy so having the lessons in my journal is a good reminder.
Persistence. I think we all have days when we ask ourselves “Why am I doing this?!” and when I have those I find a quick flick back through the journal is a great cure for the wobbles.

What do you reckon? Do you fancy keeping  a business journal? And if you do start – how about letting us know how it goes?


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