Journaling for Business and Better Management

Journaling is a technique used for personal development and self-improvement.  It involves keeping a daily diary / journal to record your thoughts and feelings about your life at that particular moment in time.

These are not necessarily “dear diary” moments, but they can be.  The main point is that it provides an opportunity to let rip.  To get all those thoughts out of your head – both negative and positive.  It provides an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth.  It has been proven to reduce stress.  It helps with problem solving – sometimes when you write the problem out, you start to see the solutions that may have otherwise been blocked.  Its said to enhance intuition in that you can start to better understand how you handle particular types of problems or recognize trends in events or relationships.  And the list of benefits go on and on.

Psychologists, counselors, life coaches and other personal development professionals have been recommending journaling for decades (also sometimes known as “Journalysis“).

So what does this have to do with business or better management?

Applying this technique to business and in particular to managers in your business can have a great impact. Some have called this approach “management by reporting” but I think that phrase can be misunderstood or possibly implemented incorrectly.  The KPI’s that you may normally include in a “report” are important, but the narrative is just as important in my opinion.

Here’s how I use it:

  • Each direct report / manager sends me a weekly report.  This can be on a Friday or a Monday – it is their choice but once chosen, that day needs to be adhered to.
  • During the week, they should record their achievements, events, progress, issues etc.  (this is phase one of their journaling)
  • On their report day, they write a report and send it by email.  It has the following structure:
  1. KPI’s ( if applicable )
  2. What they achieved, progressed, etc that week, summarizing from their journal (I don’t really want to or need to know the details – this is phase two of their journaling).
  3. What they plan to achieve, progress, etc the following week.
  4. Any issues that need addressing with me.

It takes a while for people to get used to this approach, but once they do – they find it quite cathartic.  Again, it’s important to place an emphasis on the narrative.  The process of writing out what issues they dealt with, what progress that they achieved, and what problems that occurred in summary form allows them to take stock of their week and plan for the coming week in a more effective way.

This approach gains many of the same benefits of journaling for personal development – reduces stress, self-analysis, awareness of weaknesses and strengths, identify patterns, etc.  I find the reports useful – but they are really for them and it is rare that they don’t see their immense benefit.

This is a simple, yet effective technique that I have found incredibly useful.. perhaps you will too.


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