Keep a journal


All participants will maintain and respect a journal.

Journalism is an effective method for reducing procrastination and “due diligence creep.” If you keep a daily record of “work performed”, there will be no place for imagining that an effort has taken place that really did not occur. Without written evidence that certain actions have occurred, there is a tendency to make ourselves look good without actually doing anything. Any simple bound book with blank pages will work well.

I prefer the generic “composition book” with a marbleized black and white cover. They are available at any drug store or stationary shop for a few dollars. This journal is fairly rugged, able to hold up to the abuse it will suffer because you have it with you all the time. Composition books are sewn together so it is hard to remove a sheet here and there once you have a history of entries.

Daily entries can be brief, “I had a cup of coffee and looked for jobs in the paper at 6:20 am.”

Daily entries can be longer, such as notes taken at a job club meeting, notes from a Rotary Club breakfast or summary notes of an interview.

Daily entries can be a list of goals for the day (or week).

Daily entries can be anything, as long as an entry is made every day.


Recently-unemployed-persons have an affected memory of their skills, memory that will not always serve them very well in search of a new job. We are partial to our own feelings. Most of us are not very objective when it comes to what we can offer a stranger, a person who may want to hire us.

If you were still working, you would have to account for what you are doing every minute, in order to get a paycheck. Unemployed job seekers should put in the same kind of accountable time, even though the paycheck is missing. Do something to keep the fire hot, to stay on course, to have a reason to get on the bus early in the morning.

Many professional occupations have the expression,” If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen.” Important information is not left to memory.

The following screen shot is from an MS-Access program that is designed to manage a job search campaign.  Appointments are made for meetings with self and with other people while looking for a job. It is also a repository of great paragraphs that make up future cover letters and the body of general correspondence. There is a place to store pasted job descriptions from the Internet (or from anywhere else). Some of the appointments are for actual job interviews and others are appointments with ourself, scheduling a specific time to focus on strategy or research a potential employer. Paragraphs of research ideas are pasted into a places where they can be manipulated and refined for future use in cover letters, formal letters, thank-you notes and other correspondence.

(On some browsers, you can click on the image to enlarge.)

The difficult part of a reality check is that you must put the deadlines out there for yourself. The job of getting a job must be treated like a job.

Like a job, there are things that you might not want to do. If you get a paycheck from someone, odds are there are many things you do that would not be your first choice of action. That is why they pay you.

So, in your job search, there may be things that you do not want to do. If you do those things anyway, as if you had to, many other things drop into place.

(… work in process…     … comments welcome…)

This application prints out memos, cover letters saved, job descriptions saved, and any other text based information that has been stored for later enhancement or pasting.

An important self-motivated function is an ability to record a journal entry often. When used in a “coach and player” manner there is a button that prints a quick report from the player (job seeker) to the coach (counselor).  If little job seeking effort has been done the report is very small. If real effort has been made, a brief dated record of significant efforts is sent from the player to the coach. This provides an incentive for the job seekers to be active.

3 thoughts on “Keep a journal”

  1. The idea that a journal can help prevent procrastination is valuable for me and my high school students. It’s a different way of looking at a journal (normally thought of as thought reflection) to now be thought reflection with a “To Do” list.

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