Work Journal 101: What And How To Include In A Work Journal
A work journal is a diary that includes: (a) praise you receive at work; (b) how your health condition impacts your ability to do your job; and (c) events or conversations that seem to indicate discrimination relating to your health condition. To maximize usefulness, entries in the diary should be made within a few days of when the events which are noted in the journal. If you want to revise an entry at a later date, note the date of the change in your journal.
A work journal does not take a lot of time to keep. Unlike a daily diary, you only need to make notes when:
- You think something happened that could be considered to discrimination against you because of your health condition or seemed like evidence of possible discrimination.
- Something good happens at work such as your boss says something like "good job" or you get a good performance review
- Your health condition affects your ability do to your work.
Keep your journal in a safe place - away from prying eyes.
This article includes the following information about a Work Journal.
- Why Keep A Work Journal
- How To Keep A Work Journal
- What To Include In A Work Journal
- Where Should I Keep My Work Journal?
Why Keep A Work Journal
There are two strong reasons to keep a work journal.
- It can be used to build a case if you feel as if you are discriminated against because of your health condition. If your employer discriminates against you, it is not likely there will be a smoking gun that proves the discrimination. Instead it becomes a question of proof. Proof can be very difficult. Even if there are witnesses, people who witness something at work may be reluctant to testify on your behalf. They know it can hurt their job status or career.
- If you keep notes about how your health condition or treatment affect your job, you make it more likely you will be considered to be "disabled" if you ever want to stop work because of your health and collect an income from Social Security Disability Insurance or other disability benefits.
How To Keep A Work Journal
- Make notes while events occur, or as soon after as possible.
- This doesn't mean that you should strut around your office with pad and paper from the moment that you disclose your condition. Be reasonable.
- If you can't do it the same day, at least do it the same week.
- Use exact words where possible.
- Date your entries.
- Under no circumstances should you go back and change your notations. The value of a journal comes from the fact that it is made contemporaneously - at the same time or close to the same time as an event occurs. If additional thoughts occur to you, write them on the date they occur to you. Indicate they are in addition to or are being made to correct the earlier entry.
What To Include In A Work Journal
In general, a Work Journal should include information relating to the possibility of discrimination against you based on your health condition, and information that could help in case you want to stop work and be considered to be "disabled."
Note About Possible Discrimation: Types of items to include in your journal that could affect a claim of discrimination include the following:
- If you tell your employer and/or co-workers about your health condition, note:
- Who you told
- When you told them
- Their reaction
- Notes about any comments from your employer and/or co-workers regarding your diagnosis or suspected diagnosis, regardless of whether you have disclosed your condition or not.
- Copies of all written communications between you and your employer regarding your diagnosis, including copies of medical authorizations or records provided to your employer.
- Copies of any written communications regarding workplace accommodations or requests for leave.
- Copies of all performance evaluations and notes about verbal communication regarding your performance. If the communication was verbal, be as specific as you can about what was said, by whom, and when. If there were witnesses to the conversation, mention them as well. Include who said the good words, when, and what they said. Note the names of witnesses if any were present.
- Notes about any non-verbal communication from your employer and/or co-worker(s). For example, note if you suddenly find that your desk is moved into the corner of the office after disclosing your condition, or one or more employees seems to be avoiding contact with you.
- Any other information that you consider relevant, such as being passed over for a raise or promotion or not receiving your scheduled performance review. If people you know in positions similar to yours are getting raises, promotions or benefits that you don't, note that as well.
- Notes that reflect how well you are performing your job. For instance, include a list of projects you complete, including the period of time in which they were completed and whether that was within the deadline. Oral feedback to your work should also be noted. If you finish tasks sooner than co-workers, make a note of that as well -- including co-workers' names.
Note About Disability: In the event you want to stop work and be eligible for government or private disability income at some point, make notes about any symptoms that you experience at work such as fatigue or nausea. Indicate how each symptom impacts your ability to do your job.
For example, if night sweats make you tired, don’t just say “night sweats made me tired.” Instead say something like “night sweats throughout the night kept me from sleeping more than 2 hours so I couldn’t function mentally at work the next day” or “the lack of sleep caused my coordination to be so off kilter that I broke a machine.”
Where Should I Keep My Work Journal?
Keep your journal:
- In a safe place
- Where you have ready access to it so you can make entries when something happens
- Where prying eyes won't see what your journal contains.
Since employers have free access to your work space and computer, we strongly recommend that you do not keep your employment or symptoms journal on your office computer, or in your work mobile computer provided by your employer, or in your office desk.
NOTE: Also consider: