Trust me—You need a work log.


What is a work log?

Exactly what is sounds like. A work log or tracker help you to keep track of what you're getting done on any given day. I read about this first in the book Getting What You Came For back in 2013 and felt it was overly involved but it showed up again when I read Becoming an Academic Writer (which I highly recommend) and decided to give it a try. I encourage it as a part of the Balanced Scholar Challenge but never suggested it as a long term habit, more so a way to create a baseline on how much time it takes you to complete tasks related to grad school--reading and writing. So before I even offer this as a suggestion I tried it out for myself and wanted to get through 100 log entries before I offer it up as a suggestion.


What are the benefits of a work log?

I started the log because of the points laid out in Becoming an Academic Writer accountability to self, accountability to others should you choose to share your writing log with an advisor or fellow scholar, and finally positive reinforcement. From my personal experience, I want to add to this pretty solid list that it's also great with keep track of the progress your making. I think that has been the most useful is remembering where I was at when I was done working for the day and what I need to do the next day. It's also useful for collecting more data on how long it takes you to complete tasks and hours between project milestones. So really there's the six  benefits of the work log:

  • Accountability with self

  • Possible: Accountability with others

  • Positive Reinforcement

  • Keep track of the work you're doing

  • Get data points on how much time your working

  • Deeper understanding of how long it takes you to complete tasks

How to set up a work log and how do I use it?

Ok it's super easy a work log is simply a spreadsheet. Here's the spreadsheet you can use and I've provided a few example entries from my log as well.

It’s very straightforward. Before you start working, quickly jot down what it is you want to accomplish. Right before you start working capture the time you're getting started. Then? WORK!  As I've shared before I use the Pomodoro technique and find that I usually do well working for 1.5-2.5 hours at a time so once I finish a session I capture what was accomplished. When I'm wrapping up work for the day I give like a brief on what I did and what I need to accomplish next. Usually this makes the next day's entry easy because I simply copy and paste it to the next day's task list.  I like to keep track of the entry # because I don't like seeing big gaps in my entries (even though they happen, I'm human 🤷🏾‍♀️) that means no work was done and I don't like that.


So, are you ready to try it out?

Next week let's do a mini-challenge inside The Scholar Circle! We'll do a work log Monday-Wednesday (July 26-28, 2019); we'll check in Tuesday during our usual time then again on Thursday to see how it feels! You in? Sound off in the group chat!