Stepping Up My Game - IDoneThis.com (Keep A Daily Log Of What You Do)
Over the last couple of weeks, I've become motivated to start "upping my game" when it comes to work-related stuff. It's one thing to read about sites, software, and techniques that will help you become a better tech geek, but often another to actually start to incorporate it into your daily routine. At least that's the way it ends up working for me... What I'm going to do over the next few days/weeks is to share some of the things I'm doing to improve myself in that area.
The first thing I recommend to everyone is to start keeping a daily log of what you do. This single act has had more benefits for me than just about anything else I've done on a regular basis at work. I started this practice around 15 or so years ago, as a way to remember what I did when it came time for annual reviews. Yes, it took a while to become an ingrained habit, and there were more misses than hits when I first started. In fact, many of the days were "Can't remember specifically what I did, as it's been a week now." But instead of quitting, I'd simply start over again with the current day. Eventually, the habit stuck, and now I'd be lost without it.
The primary benefit is during review time. When your boss comes up and asks you for a list of your yearly accomplishments, it normally induces a state of sheer panic as you desperately try and remember what you did last week, much less what you did nine months ago. As a result, you probably leave out many of the details that add daily value to the organization. Not a good thing when it comes time to start cutting people... With this type of journal/log sheet, you can generate that list of accomplishments in less than an hour, complete with supporting documentation. Believe me, it makes a huge difference! You may not like to "blow your own horn," but you have to learn how to market yourself effectively in today's corporate environment. If you don't, you're just another number in the departmental headcount.
The other benefit is to show weekly accountability to your boss. Many groups have to fill out status reports, which are generally hated by all. Sometimes it's the format, other times it's the hassle. Either way, it's done with grumbling and complaining. Lately I've been in more situations where I haven't had to complete a status report... but I still do. I take my weekly log and email it to my boss and/or project coordinator. It helps me be accountable for what I've done and what I'm doing, and it also gives them an idea as to what I'm currently working on. I've actually told them that I don't care if they have a mail rule that sends it straight to Trash... I just want to be held accountable to send that in weekly. In reality, it's been a great tool for both of us.
It doesn't have to be anything major or formal. Over the years, I've done my personal logs in Notes, Word, Notepad, and ISPF. :) It's usually a line for the date/day of the week and the hours I worked. What follows are short bullet points (anywhere from three to seven-ish) with a sentence or two about what I did. It may be a line that says I completed a help desk case for problem XYZ. It may be a line that says I started the design of Project ABC and I'm on track to deliver on time as promised. Nothing in the way of major details... just the bare-bones.
All that to get to the website IDoneThis.com. :)
IDoneThis.com is a "slow Internet" site that allows you to keep track of what you do on a regular basis. Instead of forcing you to remember to go out and jot stuff down, it sends you a daily email at a time of your choosing. The email asks you to hit Reply and email your daily stuff. It then takes that reply and adds it to a personal calendar like you see below. In my case, I emailed four bullet points for Monday, October 10th:
You can export the data into a CSV format in order to save and review it. You can also make it available via RSS feed if that makes it easier for your boss to follow. In any case, it's an easy daily reminder to log your work, and IDoneThis.com takes care of keeping track of the overall content.
I still keep a Word document with my daily log stuff, as I'll jot stuff in that throughout the day. I then copy my bullet points at the end of the day into the IDoneThis email and send it back. I've been working with the site for a couple of months, and I'm close to the point where I'll use that as my sole log sheet instead of keeping the weekly Word document. Either way, the important thing is that I'm tracking the information.
If you haven't tried keeping a daily log, I'd strongly encourage you to start. If you need a little more structure and prompts to keep it going, try IDoneThis.com. I have no doubt that you'll see a huge benefit from getting into this habit, and you may just find that it puts you out front of those you work with in the eyes of your management.