Journaling is an excellent way to track your activities, capture thoughts and ideas, and generally empty your head when necessary. Almost all of the popular productivity techniques involve some sort of “brain dump” or “mind like water” philosophy. The dilemma comes to separating work from home. I’ve heard it advocated to not separate them, but rather keep one journal for everything you do. Personally, growing up in the IT field I have a hard time with the “single point of failure” concept of that model. So how to proceed without carrying the Encyclopedia Britannica with you everywhere?
Now that I’ve settled on my capture tool of choice, how to capture things in a way that works for home and for work? Right now, and I do mean right now because Darwin is alive and well in my organizational processes, I’ve settled on a work journal and a non-work journal (submit a better name if you have one, please.)
Working the work journal
Each morning I start with a clean, fresh page in the work journal. It’s one of the Black n’ Red notebooks, roughly 8″ x 5″ and about 200 pages. I like the size and the appearance of the book since we all know it’s better to look good than to feel good. (Thank you Fernando!) I capture a list of the meetings I have for the day and begin line iteming the tasks that absolutely, positively have to get done that day.
Now, as with many of us, my day is riddled with and driven by interruptions. Each time I change to a new topic for the day I start a clean page in the journal and date it for that day. If I complete that activity and have to circle back to it for extra work later in the day I just add to that topic’s page. I also add a line on my first page of the day for each topic I address. Doing that gives me a table of contents for the day as well as an easy way to backtrack through everything I did at the end of the week when it comes time to submit status reports. Once the journal fills up it gets tagged with the date range it covers and filed up in the overhead bins for future reference if necessary. Simple and straightforward.
Non-work. Is there such a thing?
Balancing work and home can be the toughest management challenge of them all. Family members typically don’t take kindly to performance reviews and will nag the heck out of you if you don’t deliver on your promised commitments. (”But Dad…you said we’d go to the movies tomorrow! It is tomorrow!)
I follow the same approach as I do with the work journal, but I’ve found some interesting natural variances between the two.
Wow…that’s a lot to start with. Next time I’ll explain my choices in books and some recommendations I have for making them more useful when it comes to managing people and projects. (crossing off blog posting on my list…woohoo!)