How to keep track of your work log to help you write an effective self-review.

As the new year dawns, the burning questions of promotions and raises loom large for many. Whether you’re bracing for an impending annual review or simply pondering your prospects, the uncertainty can be daunting.

Last year, I stumbled upon this post by Julia Evans about “Brag Documents”, tried doing it at my full-time work, and was grateful I was able to get them recognized during my annual review.

A brag document is like a living work log, think of it as a collection of the impactful work you’ve done throughout the year, with all the metrics and actions you’ve taken. I personally call it “Yearly Highlights “ and use a tool like Notion to organize the list.

This is a preview of my own version of a brag document from last year (download the new template below).

You might be asking, why write a brag document? 👇

No one remembers what you did

What you most likely remember in your self-review without a brag document.

You will not remember what you did. Maybe some, but not all. Perhaps the mistakes you made because you had learned a lesson from them. But, how about the good ones? Those you did well and made an impact at work.

Without writing this at the beginning of last year, I would not remember the small details or perhaps would be scrambling on commits, PRs, notes, chats, and everywhere I think I could find it. Even if I had coffeed out, I can’t come close to what I have gathered during my review.

Your managers or peers will not remember what you did. They might remember some, but is not their responsibility to do that for you. And no, you don’t share a brag document to “brag”. Instead, you use it so you will have a good memory of what you did and help you leverage impactful ones when negotiating for a promotion or raise.

It helps you reflect on your work

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. What I like about the idea of keeping a brag document is less of keeping track of my “accomplishments”. More so that I can look back at things I did, identify patterns or habits, and reflect on what I can improve without waiting for next my review.

You can also keep a brag document to celebrate small or big wins. Although I don’t often celebrate wins in public that much, I still like the idea of recognizing others’ contributions to a milestone we accomplished together. Remembering and celebrating wins can boost the team’s morale and help build a healthy relationship among the team members.

Create a brag document now. You can download this template I created using Notion. You don’t need to follow it religiously. You can keep it simple or be creative about it. Your goal is to keep it aligned with the main goal: to remember what you did. 🎯 

Over to you: What were the key highlights of your 2023? Are you ready to take on the challenges in 2024?