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Thomas De Moor for X-Team

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The Benefits of Keeping a Slack Journal

"Where did you get all those muscles from?" your friends ask, as if you purchased those biceps for 0.42 Bitcoin from a muscle-seller around the corner. As if it wasn't the months of dedication in the gym, hundreds of burpees, and thousands of dumbbell curls 💪.

Or "How did you get so good at coding?", as if you bumped your head against a door and it activated the C++ part of your brain. As if it wasn't the hours spent on Stack Overflow, the nights searching for that missing comma, and the frustrated squashing of bugs 🐛.

Meaningful change is a process. It never happens suddenly.

But if you don't document the small bits of work you put in every day, you'll lose track of your progress. You'll become demotivated, because you can't look back and see how far you've come. You'll unwittingly stop doing what made you successful, what makes you happy.

It's the main reason why everyone at X-Team journals 📕. And it's been a game changer. You see, we don't journal the old-fashioned way. We wanted to see if there was a journaling 2.0.

And it turns out there is. The title gives it away, but Slack has proven a wonderful way to journal. Here's how that works...

a physical journal vs a Slack journal

Journaling back then vs journaling now

Aside from the surprising health benefits of regular journaling, journaling on Slack is a key ingredient in creating a community of people that trust each other.

Here's how it works. Firstly, you have "Today I Learned" (TIL) notes. They're the little learning moments scattered throughout the day, those golden nuggets that disappear if you don't quickly record them on Slack. These notes are quick and raw, the reports from the battlefield.

Secondly, you have "reflection" notes. You're sitting victoriously on top of your conquered mountain 🗻, sipping tea from a china cup and looking over the battlefield. You think about the things that went well and the things that didn't go well. But most importantly, you formulate in words why your day went the way it did.

Sometimes you instinctively feel a piece of code, for example, isn't quite right. Don't let those moments slide by! Write down why you feel that way. It's a powerful way to learn.

sheep, dog, hidden

Something's not right here

Most of our Slack journals are publicly available to join for X-Teamers. And all Slack journals have at least two people added to it. It has drastically reduced the need for time-consuming meetings, because the relevant people are always up to date. They know what you're working on.

It's a two-way street too. If you're stuck, you're encouraged to write it in your journal. Someone will jump in and help. Work gets done faster, because your colleagues can share their relevant experience and point you in the right direction.

Journaling on Slack is the 2.0 way for a remote company to exist. It increases trust, reduces stress, and helps get work done faster. Combine all those journals together, and you have a veritable treasure trove of learnings.

Top comments (5)

sheldonhull profile image

This is really cool. One issue this does have, is if you aren't doing this on a paid slack plan, then there is a 10,000 message limit. I'd actually use slack for personal tracking and other things much more, but I really don't like that loss of that history. I know there's workarounds, and apps that can archive. That's just another piece to manage so I haven't done that

tdmoor profile image
Thomas De Moor

Yeah that's a good point. Takes a while to get to 10K messages if you only add one a day though.

sheldonhull profile image

I tend to pipe GitHub release notifications and other helpful info, so I couldn't predict when I'd run out. I ended up starting a simple git repo with asciidoc or log. That's easy enough and can export easily then. Will just stick with perhaps one file per month.

On a side note Psslack for powershell or other library should make it easy to export all if you tag it or put it in a private room that only contains that

tjay_dev profile image
Thomas Jaskiewicz

Thanks Thomas for sharing your idea.
What questions do you usually ask yourselves before creating a new entry in your slack journal?

tdmoor profile image
Thomas De Moor

It's mostly a log of what I've done that day, as well as thoughts that pop up in my head as my day progresses, that I think will be useful to look back on.