Learning Logs are a great way to achieve personal goals and determine bottlenecks in your career.
Some of the people I coach are not only interested in getting technically better at their jobs they also want to improve their personal achievements. In both cases I suggest a Learning Log.
Essentially a Learning Log helps you determine and track progress to chosen goals .. but it does more than this. It ensures you focus on your objectives and don’t keep putting off until tomorrow what you should do today.
Let’s look at a simplistic example. So say one of your objectives is Hitting Deadlines. In your Learning Log you will record that you want to Improve Hitting Deadlines .. just a simple heading like that will do.
Now record the evidence you have of failing to hit deadlines and how it makes you feel (OK I now that sounds touchy feely but bear with me) . One example might be that you miss deadlines in the lead up to printing the prospectus, which means you have to pull the stops out at the last minute to get it printed for the first Open Evening each September. This makes you feel stressed, means calling in favours from others and you have to work in to the early hours over the weekend.
Now record what would solve the problem. An example might be better planning, selecting an earlier completion date etc. Think also about other objectives you might want to include in your Learning Log and add these.
Categorise the problems appropriately into similar issues; for example lack of planning and lack of checking action against planned milestones.
Now at the end of each day sit down over a coffee and think back to similar situations that have occurred that day of where you planning or checking action against milestones has been relevant. Did you succeed or fail? Why? What did you do well and what might you have done better?
Do this each day; repeat good behaviours and try to nullify bad behaviours and you will make progress in achieving your career objectives and your overall performance.
How do I layout my learning log?
The layout is up to you but here are two methods I’ve used and both work well for me.
In method one have page where you produce a table that includes each objective, how it manifests itself e.g. lack of planning.
You’ll probably find this is common to several objectives so you can now produce a second page entitled Lack of Planning, where you note examples of where this happens, how it makes you feel, why you think it happened, what you’ll do differently next time and anything else relevant to the issue. I said earlier that recoding how you feel may sound a bit touchy feely but it starts to make sense when you start to record that some success makes you feel less stressed. This helps keep you at it.
Produce similar pages for each area where you want to improve.
The second method I have tried is to use MindMapping to record the same information. If you are into MindMapping you’ll understand why.
How do I ensure I keep my learning log up to date?
Two things to think about here. One is that recording success and how great that feels will encourage you to keep your Learning Log up to date.
The second is to share your Learning Log with your mentor or someone lese you trust. Tell the that you want them to hold you to account with regard completing your log.
Lastly if you schedule a quiet 10-15 mins into the end of each day you’ll find the process becomes second nature; especially if you combine it with planning the next day.
What can I record in my Learning Log?
Almost anything and everything. Whatever is causing you sleepless nights is a good starting point followed by those things that will help your career. In the past I’ve included things like How to Manage My Boss, Negotiation Skills, Closing a Sale …. over the years the list a changed and many of them have also lead to me undertaking additional training in the things I see will help me to develop my career.