If there is one thing, I remember most about being a young, inexperienced technician it’s the frequent failures I encountered: it’s inevitable. The overwhelming sense of inadequacy flooded my veins, each time a made a mistake.
As time went by, the mistakes I made began to diminish. However, they returned, and they were certainly unwelcomed. I received a bit of friendly advice from a mentor of mine, and that advice helped me progress. His suggestion to me was to keep a journal.
The idea of the journal seemed like a silly waste of time, but I chose to do it, on blind faith alone (it was either that or get a smack across the back of the head, the next time I goofed up). What I found to occur in a very short period afterward was that I started to hold myself more accountable for my thoughts and actions. The thought of someone reading my journal entries inadvertently forced me to dot every “i” and cross every “t.”
What did this yield to me? In time I became thorough and strategic in my thoughts and actions. Enabling me to work more accurately and productively. But, even more importantly, when I made a mistake and was forced to retrace my steps, the detailed notes allowed me easy access to corrective actions. I could see exactly where I went wrong, after the fact.
When it comes to productivity and refinement, you simply cannot find an easier way to improve than to reference your journal entries. Take a few minutes to write an entry for each diagnostic challenge you encounter. Be sure to include the repair order number (in case you must reference it later) as well as pertinent information about the vehicle configuration and fault/DTCs exhibited.
Take careful notes about the tools you used, the tests you performed, and the subsequent test necessitated by the previous ones. Even when you perform an accurate diagnosis, by reflecting on these journal entries, you are asking yourself “What is it I could’ve done differently?”
Many times, you will notice an unnecessary step taken and will learn to refine your diagnostic approach for next time. Be sure to include your [temporary] failures as well. They will keep you humble and energized/confident when you would typically feel at your worst.
Take it from me, I’ve had many successes, but many more failures. If not for the journaling, I’m not sure if I would’ve had the internal fortitude to persevere to success. The road you have chosen as an automotive technician can be one of the most rewarding choices you could've made for yourself. Capitalize on all of the tools you have available for self-improvement and refinement. You will be on the road to greater success in no time at all.
This blog originally appeared on VehicleServicePros.com.