Why You Should Keep a Productivity Diary

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Do you want to get more done during the dayWhy You Should Keep a Productivity Diary

Having trouble keeping tabs on what you accomplished yesterday and last week?

A productivity diary is a convenient way to document and track your progress on a project.

In this post, I offer a few reasons why you should track your productivity efforts with a diary.


What is a Productivity Diary?

A productivity diary is just as it sounds: it is a diary that contains key information about your ability to accomplish projects, assignments, and tasks.

A productivity diary can come in handy when you are working on a specific work or personal project and want to analyze exactly how you are spending your time and energy.   

Unlike a personal diary, in which entries are made on a regular basis for long periods of time, a productivity diary can be kept for a relatively short period of time.

It’s a great way to take a snapshot of your work efforts for a set period of time.

A productivity diary doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can use a blank notebook or journal, a loose leaf binder, or even a text editor or word processing document to record your thoughts and evaluate your progress.

Wondering what type of information could you record in a productivity diary?

It all depends on what productivity-specific information you want to record and measure.

For example, you could keep track of any combination of the following pieces of info:

  • Month, day, and year
  • Current project or assignment   
  • Completed tasks for the day
  • Minutes/hours spent completing tasks
  • Energy levels before completing tasks
  • Energy levels after completing tasks
  • Methods used
  • Convenient or helpful tools

All you do is gather the corresponding data, and record each piece of information on a daily, or otherwise regular basis.

Now that we’ve discussed what a productivity diary is, let’s move on to why it’s worth keeping such a diary in the first place.

You have a dedicated space to track and record your progress.

Wanting to become more productive is one thing; actually being more productive is an entirely other thing! If you’re really serious about filing more papers today than you did yesterday, or responding to more emails than you did last week, you’ll need to monitor your progress.

Keeping a quantitative record of your accomplishments will allow you to clearly see what and how much you accomplished. A productivity diary allows you to keep all this information in a single, contained space. No more being distracted by your daily to-dos, the appointments on your calendar, or any other your work assignments. You can easily review and focus on your data in one convenient place.

You can find commonalities you may not have found otherwise.

Have you ever reviewed your calendar at the end of the year? If you’ve ever done so, you’ll know it is filled with all sorts of patterns. As you go back in time, your volunteering sessions on the weekend, bimonthly business trips, and daily gym visits become instantly visible. Like many things in life, it’s only in hindsight that you can find these patterns.

When you keep a productivity diary, you have chunks of valuable, repeating information available to you for evaluation. Leafing through your diary might help you uncover some surprising, and perhaps even startling information about how you work.

You might find you don’t work well in the mornings, but thrive in the afternoon. Or, you may believe you don’t make progress on cataloging videos on Thursdays afternoon, when in fact you catalog more on Thursdays, than you do on Mondays.

You can record and rank tools, resources, and materials.

Part of the joy in working efficiently is finding those tools and resources that make it easy to complete your work. What if you could take things one step further and actually take note of, classify, and grade your tools? Doing so may make your productivity soar! You’ll know exactly what items ultimately help or hinder your efforts.

By using this technique, you can evaluate productivity tools, resources, and materials side by side. For instance, you could identify which project planning programs worked well under certain circumstances, and which ones horribly failed. You could rank all of the productivity to-do apps you’ve used over the past few years and decide which ones are best for personal or work use. You could also grade apps on their ease of use, practicality, and overall effectiveness.

As you can see, when it comes to being more productive, it can help to have a written record of your experiences.

When your productivity efforts and results are accurately captured, you can take targeted steps to make improvements to your daily routine.

How about you? Do you use a diary or journal to track your progress when you’re at work? Are you thinking about keeping a productivity diary for one of your current projects and assignments? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.