Five tips for keeping a neat work journal.

My thoughts are constantly scattered. Having a broad range of work duties can make it difficult to keep track of responsibilities. At times, intense focus on a single task can cause a loss of sight for tasks that seem unrelated. I have kept a work journal for the past few years. It has helped me immensely. However, I have learned a few things along the way. Here are five tips for keeping a work journal.

Handwrite your notes. Scientific studies have shown handwriting notes can help you retain the information better.  Most people can type faster than they can write something out by hand. The ability to type notes verbatim ends up being a detriment. Handwriting, being slower, forces people to actively think about the information and decide which parts are important. This active process makes it more likely that the information will be retained.

Start a new page every day and do not forget the date.  I rarely reference my notes more than a week back. However, on the rare occasions I cannot remember the status of a task, having a record and date of completion will alleviate self-doubt.

At the beginning of each day start a new task list to prioritize your goals. Allowing yourself ten minutes in the beginning of the day will help you decide which items on your task list are most important. It can also help you block off your time efficiently.

When you do something that was not on your task list, write it down just to cross it off. Not only is this an extremely satisfying symbolic gesture, but it is also good to have it as a reference in the future.

Break large tasks into their smallest possible pieces. It will help you be more productive. Large goals can be overwhelming and time consuming. It is much easier to block off time for four several smaller tasks than for one large task.