Three Simple Steps to Create a Powerful Productivity Journal

Updated: July 2, 2012

Dolly Garland

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A productivity journal is a great tool to record, analyze and improve your efficiency cycle. Work smarter, not harder is a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a good reason. Productivity journal can help you work smarter, and avoid non-value added tasks.

This is especially useful when you have specific goals, big projects, or if you are just trying to form a habit of being productive. It can contribute significantly towards making you an expert.

If you already keep a journal, you could use that as a productivity journal too. But if you do, I recommend marking the pages or indexing for easy reference. If you are not very organized or fairly new to journaling, then I recommend keeping a seperate productivity journal because it will make the whole exercise easier.

How To Keep a Productivity Journal 

1. Record

Start with your goals. If you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, you can’t measure your progress. Make your goals specific. If you want to get fit, it can’t be, “I want to lose weight.” It has to be, “I want to lose 10 pounds.”

Your big goals should be no more than 3 to 8, depending on their scope. That's what you begin with, and then you can continue to break them down into mini goals, and task lists as you move forward.

2. Analyze

Once you have recorded your progress, your tasks, your emotions for at least two-three weeks, read through the entries. Journal about the patterns you notice.

Focus on facts, even when you are talking about your feelings. Be brutally honest, because this is where the growth happens.

  • What emotions do you feel as you read through these entries?
  • How do you feel about your projects? For example, looking at the progress you’ve made, do you feel the pride in your accomplishments? DO you feel frustration that you are not moving forward quick enough?
  • What do you notice about times? Are there any particular days, times, locations when you are more productive?
  • How have you spent your time?
  • How much time have you wasted?
  • What do you consider waste? Are you giving yourself time to relax and replenish your energy?
  • What have you learned?
  • What were the successes?
  • Where did you fail miserably? Why did you fail?

3. Improve

Improvement is about action plans. Use the data from your analysis. Look at your answers to the above questions. Read them carefully, several times. Read them out loud.

If your analysis was honest, then you have your answers. You know where you are. Now it's time for action.

  • What successes do you want to repeat?
  • How can you repeat the processes for those successes? Can you create templates?
  • What will you do differently to not face the same failures again? How will you put those different steps in place?
  • How can you make better use of your time? What actions can you take that will make you more productive, not busier.
  • How will you keep recharging your inner batteries?
  • How will you ensure that your goals remain aligned?
  • What evaluations and assessments can you do to make sure that the path you remain on, remains the right path for you as you grow and change?
These are just a small sample of questions you could ask yourself in your productivity journal. The analysis, and the action plans could be as brief or as comprehensive as you want.

Your productivity journal is unique to you, so tailor it to your personality, your goals, and what brings out the best in you.


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