Since November, I’ve been keeping a journal of what I’ve been up to at work: short notes of the current task at hand that day, what features and changes I’ve shipped, or what notable tickets I’ve handled. I also jot down what time I get to my desk, and what time I leave.
In a way, the whole thing is a way for me to keep track of my work commitments, and my productivity. It helps me get an idea of whether I’ve been able to get stuff done, or whether I seem distracted or what-not. I also have a better idea of how much I work, roughly – and it also makes me better aware of my general schedule. For instance, I’ve been fairly consistent in keeping an 8-hour work day, and it seems I’m forming a schedule now.
Having a journal also allows me to look back at my work, especially if and when I want to prepare to get promoted: it pays to have data on what features I’ve shipped (or helped shipped), and having a timeline of events written down on my journal will help me prepare a narrative on my body of work to date. I’ve annotated my entries, of course, with ticket and code review IDs: those act as the primary sources, of course, of the actual work done.
Admittedly, I do get lazy sometimes: there are a couple of days where I didn’t jot down what I had done for the day, and I had to add entries after the fact – which was terribly difficult at times, as I’d usually have forgotten at that point the events of a day before (or sometimes a few days before).
I keep my work journal on a small A6-sized notebook; I’m old school that way, as I really prefer writing long hand using a fountain pen. I mean, sure I could use Emacs for that. However, it feels quite different and quite satisfying to me to put pen to paper, and it isn’t the same for me as typing it in. That being said, if you do end up keeping your own work journal, feel free to use whatever works for you.
The one thing I haven’t yet done though is create or use a system to make some of the details more visible or succinct on my journal. I might take a look at bullet journaling, and I freely admit it might not work for me – after all, I’m doing it as a data capture exercise, not a task capture one – but I might adopt some of its symbology for my use.
Speaking of: I’m still pretty ad-hoc about my task management, and maybe I might adopt something. But that’s for another entry.