Lessons From the Work Wins Journal
At the beginning of September, one of my colleagues from the Freelance Chat, group, Matthew Denton of WinningSolo.com, presented us with a “Work Wins Journal Challenge” for September. He keeps a Work Wins Journal each day to track achievements, so the focus (as I understand it) is on what works and what is accomplished and what needs to be adjusted, rather than always worrying about what’s not getting done. He talks about it here.
Anything that involves a journal is like catnip for me, so of course I jumped in.
I kept the journal for work days, although I did list “accomplishments” if I got things done over the weekend.
Going back over his post, I had to laugh at myself. He talks about listing 3 things in ANY of his listed categories – meanwhile, I worked to make sure I had something in EVERY category EVERY day.
Mercury Retrograde much?
But one of the things he talks about is how it helps spot patterns.
I had designated work days in the month. Labor Weekend fell in there, early one. And I had to take some additional days to recover from the COVID booster. So I lost a few days in there.
Looking back at the “Mindset” category, I’m dismayed by how often the entry was “burned out” or “exhausted.” Sometimes it would start optimistic, and fade as the day wore on. There were a few days marked “determined” or “tired but optimistic” and even fewer marked “optimistic.”
That means adjustments have to be made on the work front. I should be excited and feeling creative more days than not.
The Good Habits category held steady: early morning writing, yoga, meditation, work in various journals. I had wavered in my daily yoga/meditation practice in August, so it was good to get those back on track.
The Accomplishments tab was steady each day (and often on weekends, when I did additional or catch-up work. The “September Wrap Up” post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site that went up this past Monday details those. So, in spite of feeling exhausted and burned out most of the time, I still got a lot done.
Client Feedback was trickier. Because so much of what I do is not in the traditional “client” mode, and, if anything, I’m moving further and further away from what many freelancers consider “client” relationships, that category is getting less and less relevant to my work. In the traditional client relationships, I got positive feedback per project, so it wasn’t at any set point. As far as script coverage, I received a steady stream of writer satisfaction bonuses and tips. On the writing front, the Topic Workbooks sold steadily, the serial is gaining traction (albeit slowly), the radio plays are well received. Editors and publishers and producers and readers and creative collaborators aren’t clients, though. They are creative partners by my definition, even with financial exchange as part of the relationshp. I look at a client as someone for whom I do copy/content/business script writing. It’s very much a transaction of we contract, I create, you pay, we move on to other projects or other client partnerships. There’s definitely creativity involved on both sides, but it’s a different kind of creative partnership than with an editor or a producer or a publisher or a reader or someone with whom I’m creating an artform. Those creative partnerships also tend to talk longer to create, and therefore take longer to show financial gain.
Those partnerships are part of my work, and therefore my business – not a hobby, a side hustle, or something cute and unprofitable. But the relationship and definition are a little different. And becuase much of my work runs on royalties and residuals, that’s an entirely different payment system.
So, for what I do, “client feedback” is less relevant than simply “feedback.”
As far as supportive words from others, there was that, from trusted friends and colleagues. There, unfortunately, were also the usual condescending/patronizing/attempts to dimmish creative work as not “real” work in terms of business that irked me, but also showed me where I need to step back from certain engagements. I respect my work, and I expect others to respect it, too, even if they don’t understand it. If they try to diminish it, that gives me a lot of necessary information about the bigger picture.
The “things initiated” slot had quite a few listings, but most of those are long-term plans rather than immediate payouts. I admit, I was sadly behind on where I wanted/needed to be on LOIs. Part of that was frustration with attempts to design my autumn direct mail postcard, with my new Fearless Ink logo. Since my direct mail postcard campaign usually gets a 25% response rate and sets me up in those traditional client relationships well for the quarter, I need to get back on that.
I think, for coming months, I need to add a category after “things initiated” for “projects in progress” to track follow-through. Because, as stated above, much of what I do is long-term, and the path from “initiated” to “accomplished” has small victories along the way, and I want to acknowledge those.
On my GDR site, for the Monthly Wrap-Up, the categories I find useful are:
That is more in alignment with my work, but only makes sense to list monthly, not daily (although I open the document at the beginning of the month and add things as they happen).
The “people helped” category was sometimes a challenge, and sometimes not. I don’t always know when I’ve helped someone, unless I see a request for information or answer a direct question/request. But there were a few people I know I helped over the month. Again, so much of what I do is solitary, I don’t know about the response/reaction/impact until months or years after completion.
It was a good experiment, and I’m glad I participated. Now I can see what needs to be adjusted, and how to do it in a way that works for what I do and need.
How do you track what’s working in your work life?