Start a Journal


If you're a project manager, a functional manager, a technical lead, or someone who wants to improve their work, start a journal or a log.

When I was an engineer, I kept an engineering notebook. I discovered a bunch of ways I created the same defects. (Yes, developers create defects as they create products, and we pay them to do so.) For example, when I wrote FORTRAN code, I was great at creating infinite loops. As I wrote the code, I didn't pay enough attention to the start and end conditions. By tracking how I didn't pay enough attention, I was able to reduce the number of infinite loops I created.

I used that learning when I started running projects. On my first project, I got stuck, not achieving part of the end state. Since I was still keeping an engineering notebook, I wrote this sentence, “Gee, this seems just like those inifinite loops I wrote. Will this project never end??”

That sentence was a clue: Look at my initiation and end states. Had I set up an infinite-loop project? What did I have to do to stop the loop?

I use journals (engineering notebooks, management notebooks, notes at meetings, whatever you want to call them) to track my individual patterns and learn when they help me and when they hinder me. Then I have a choice about continuing the behavior pattern.

So, if you're not yet keeping a journal or log, consider it. Write down your decisions and why you chose to make them. Write down your problems or defects. See if you can discover the root cause of the problem. After a few months, you'll know more about how you think and act at work — which, for me, is a Good Thing.

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