Keeping an Observation Journal
If you are trying to start a business, you want to make sure whatever you contribute adds value. In fact, in life in general, we should be seeking to add value to the lives of those around us. How can you make sure you will succeed in this endeavor?
Become an observer of the world around you. If you pay attention, you are likely to find many needs around you. If you keep an observation journal, you can look back and find ways you could meet some of those needs.
To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.- Marilyn vos Savant
What is an Observation Journal?
Simply put, an observation journal is a place for you to make note of the things you observe around you. This type of journal is used to study nature, to study business needs, to keep a record of daily happenings, or any way you may choose to observe the world.
You can list the observations you make, or you can write a detailed summary.
You can break your journal up into sections based on the type of observations you make.
There are many options when recording your perception of the world.
The important thing about an observation journal is it takes you outside yourself. Usually with journaling, it is an exercise in evaluating ourselves. When we choose to be observers, we are evaluating the world around us.
Spending too much time on yourself keeps you from being involved in your surroundings. Taking time to understand something outside yourself allows you to understand others. This is important!
Where Can You Make These Observations?
There are so many opportunities to observe the world around you, if you take the time to look for them. People are always ready to share their perceptions, desires and needs with you if you are ready to pay attention. For some specific ways you can give them the opportunity, look for these openings:
- Listen to People
When you are spending time with friends and family, when you meet someone new, even when you over-hear a conversation, all these situations can lend a chance to observe.
- When someone is complaining about a difficulty at work
- If someone is telling you about a product they wish they had access to
- When someone is asking for advice
- When someone is explaining what they do
- When someone is excited about something
- When someone is telling you about something new they came across
All these instances are opportunities to add to your observation journal. You probably don’t want to write it down as your speaking to them but make a mental note to add it later. As soon as you have a moment, create a note to keep the idea fresh in your mind. Plus, when you take the time to understand what people are telling you, you get the added bonus of being considered a good listener.
Watch what’s going on around you. If you see someone struggling with something, take notice (and help in the moment if you are able). Pay attention to the ideas, topics, products, etc. that are trending around you. Pay attention to which businesses in your local area have the most traffic.
Don’t just notice these things though. Really try to understand what causes these trends or difficulties. Try to understand why, and you may be able to see how you could contribute to the trends, copy success, or alleviate a difficulty.
- Look for trends on social media
Social media sites are a great place to make observations. Just by looking at your feeds, you can come across a wealth of information for your observation journal. Depending on where you are when you check social media, you can have the bonus of being able to jot down your observations immediately.
- Is there a topic that comes up regularly or never dies down?
- Do you see questions showing up in your feed regularly?
- What are people excited about?
- What posts are getting the most engagement?
These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself as you browse your social media sites. Not only will you gain great insights into what people are interested in, but you can feel more productive as you take time to check these sites during the day.
How These Observations Can Help You
When you jot down your observations, you can go back later and look for patterns. See which topics or ideas come up most often in all your observations and determine why these are the trending topics. The great thing about the human brain is that it is wired to seek out patterns. It won’t be difficult to start connecting the dots once you sit down with your available data.
You can also seek for ways to solve common problems, contribute to the most substantial trends, and look for ways to contribute to the things that matter to people in your sphere.
You can, by connecting these things from outside yourself, and analyzing them through the filter of your expertise, find a way to use the data to build or expand your business.
The information is available in abundance, all you have to do is seek it and make use of it.
Don’t Try to do Everything
You don’t have to be discriminant in the observations you make, but remember, just because you make the observation doesn’t mean you will necessarily act on it. Once you begin to analyze your notes, you will want to run them through the filter of your own knowledge and experience.
Don’t just try to act on an observation because it is trending. If the idea is not in your sphere, leave it alone. You will not do yourself or your customers any good trying to act on things you don’t understand or care about.
Keep searching and you will find something that gets you excited about getting involved. These areas of excitement are what will help you create and grow the business you want to share, giving your business the best potential to succeed.
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