Investing 20 minutes a day or less in journaling in the morning and the evening can help executives plan their day, evaluate what’s working and what’s not and measure progress toward their goals, writes Art Petty. Petty offers 20 prompts to get started and reasons why this exercise is about more than just keeping a diary.



Participants in my workshops and webinars regularly hear encouragement and reminders from me to use a professional journal.

I’ve long believed journaling is one of the most powerful continuous improvement tools we can use in our working lives. Yet only a small number of individuals I encounter employ this great self-development tool. My goal is to increase that number. Here’s some encouragement:


Why Journal?

Over the years, I’ve collected feedback from clients who maintain a professional journal. Here’s a selection (paraphrased) of those comments:

I dedicate ten minutes to updating my journal in the morning and the evening. I look forward to those moments because they allow me to slow down and think about what I’m doing and how I might do it better.

Journaling helps me focus on the best places to exert my limited time and energy. The act of jotting down my big initiatives helps me prioritize and focus. I cannot imagine not doing this.I use my journal to outline problems with initiatives and people and then define constructive approaches to dealing with challenges.

My journal is my decision log. I document all the key issues and expectations for big decisions and then loop back to review what I got right and wrong to improve my decision-making effectiveness.I use my journal to practice Art’s technique for preparing for challenging conversations—especially feedback discussions and then to record what worked and what I need to do differently the next time.