Keeping a work journal as an employee
As an employee I had to respond to all kinds of situations. A technical designer communicates with individuals at all levels of product development and manufacturing. This would include fabric sourcing, testing, fitting, pattern making, grading, cost analysis, returns, and even customer service. The boss could change from project to project. In my experience at family-owned businesses, various family members would be responsible for certain areas and would sometimes be in charge of a particular project. The shifting responsible could sometimes land on you if one department or individual disagrees with a particular decision.
In order to protect myself, I started keeping a work journal. It was pretty basic and bare bones. I usually used an inexpensive spiral bound notebook that I would pick up at the back to school sales. Though, you could go as fancy as you choose. These are the usual details I would record:
- Project/Style name
- Description of work completed that day
- Time spent on the project
But sometimes I would record requests for changes:
- Project/Style Name
- Description of work completed and WHO REQUESTED IT
- Time spent on the project
Sometimes the requested work was a change in a pattern. Sometimes I questioned the validity of the request. But, I wasn't the boss. I could advise or recommend something different, but ultimately it was not my final responsibility so long as I could prove who made the request and when.
Sometimes I had design meetings or phone meetings. I recorded:
- Topics discussed
- Assignments and deadlines
- The person who gave the assignment.
A typical entry would read:
January 5, 2018
Completed first pattern draft. Double checked grade. Sent style to have first sample cut and sewn.
Boss requested this style have a 1 inch hem instead of 3/4 inch. Made adjustment and double checked grade. Sent style to have new sample sewn in intended fabric for style.
My work journal saved me a few times. I would have the company owner or project boss come back and ask about something. I could look back in my journal and tell them exactly what happened. There were a few times I would have multiple people tell me to do one thing and then completely reverse and do the opposite. Believe me, you will not regret keeping a work journal!
Keeping a journal for client work
My journal entries for client work is not much different. I would include, of course, the name of the client and a description of the project. Another important thing to keep track of is the time spent on the project. Keeping track of time will let you know if you are being fairly compensated and whether you need to make adjustments in billing. Eventually these notes would be moved to a file that would include any pictures, correspondence, and invoices.
- Client name
- Project/Style Description
- Work completed
- Time spent
- Any other relevant correspondence.