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Documenting your workday can help in certain situations where work performance comes into question. Though it may take a while to develop the habit of creating a work log, keeping one can save you a lot of headache down the road and keep you employed. There are simple steps for maintaining a work log.
Start today. Buy a ledger notebook from an office supply store, a planner with ample space to write in daily or a simple binder filled with loose-leaf paper and tab dividers.
Take your new work log with you to the office or into the field and keep it on you at all times. When you clock in or begin work, jot down the date and precisely what time you've arrived. Don't make a to-do list in your work log. Instead, write down everything that you do accomplish throughout your day and when it happened.
Decide which information is important, and don't worry about the rest. You don't need to spend your entire day writing in the log, nor does it need to be a recounting of every second of your day.
Track when and who gives you a task, and when you complete it. Note down phone calls, when you received them, who called, and when you called back. Write a few key words in relation to what the issue was and how you resolved it and then move on. Note emails and other communications as well.
Note when you ask off work, days that you're absent, paychecks, when you've left and arrived for lunch, and anything else that your employer might fault you or praise you for. A work log is your very best defense if you are unjustly reviewed or let go, and it's also your best tool for negotiating a raise.
Assume nothing. Your boss may or may not be tracking these very same things, but it's up to you to look out for yourself and knowing that you have a log, in writing, boosts your confidence and will actually improve your performance because it makes you accountable -- to yourself.
Skip the computer for this one. Digital is better in most cases, but in the case of a work log you want a hard copy in your own handwriting. This will prove invaluable if the worst should ever happen and you find yourself under attack or worse, in court.
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