We’re all busy. We all have infinite to-do lists that fill up faster than we can cross off the most urgent tasks. Being busy makes you feel productive, but it could be getting in the way of your most important project: YOU.
“Busy” is the most common reason people give me for not doing anything to build their brand so they can advance their career. They make time for emails and meetings and teleconferences, but they don’t capture the true benefits of all those activities. Working in their career is getting in the way of working on their career. Sound familiar?
Document your wins. What’s the easiest way to do that? Keep a job journal.
Why? When you take a minute to jot down the day’s achievements, you:
1. Acknowledge what makes you great. Your team members and clients are too busy to notice your daily victories, so it’s important to take a brief moment for self-congratulations. It’s a great confidence builder, and it helps you quantify and assess your strengths. Don’t forget to record the seemingly small triumphs, even the personal ones (“met the deadline despite cranky vendors … stayed calm under pressure!”).
2. See the difference between meeting goals because of motivation and meeting goals despite burnout. If you take an extra 90 seconds and record not only what you achieved, but how it felt to accomplish the task, you’ll get a great reality check. You’ll realize which activities and co-workers make you happy and which ones fill you with dread. This self-awareness is critical as you decide where you want to go with your career. It’s not just about “doing,” it’s about doing the things that energize you. This will also help you know when to take action, giving priority to the projects that will have the greatest impact for your career, your team and your company.
3. Get a clear picture of the kind of work you are doing. Do you find yourself in leadership roles? Are you perfectly content to execute someone else’s plans? Which types of projects do you prefer? Are you repeating an inefficient process over and over?
4. Shine during your weekly or monthly team meeting with your boss. You can speak clearly and articulately about all you accomplished in the prior week or month, and you’ll be the one with the latest facts when it’s time to deliver a progress report.
5. Easily prepare a dazzling portfolio for your annual review – the one that’s tied to your bonus and promotion! If you’ve written them down, you’re not going to forget those great things you did in January when you get to your annual review in December. At the end of the year, you’ll have a complete list of accomplishments – approximately 260 entries. You can go through the list and highlight, sort, combine – whatever suits your style. And you’ll have a competitive edge, because you’ll have well-organized evidence. Instead of a vague conversation, you can have a full-blown presentation that showcases all the times you saved the company money, brought in business, made customers happy, and otherwise saved the day. If you’re invited to interview at another organizations, these materials (except confidential ones, of course) translate into a great career-marketing portfolio. If you’re in business for yourself, a job journal is even more essential because it can enhance your pitch.
So how do you do it? Follow these three steps:
1. Choose a consistent place and time of day. The job journal should become one of your favorite habits.
2. Until it becomes a habit, add it to your do-list or calendar. It’s an important activity that deserves to be a high priority in your life.
3. Do it. While we were writing Ditch. Dare. Do!, my co-author, Deb Dib, and I prepared a wins worksheet designed specifically for recording your wins. It’s a fillable PDF that you can add to every day. Download your worksheet and get busy on your real work.
Contributor: William Aruda