6 Steps to Writing an Effective Coaching Log + Free Coaching Log Template

coaching log template

Picture this: You’ve just logged on to a coaching call. The client talks about how their week went, and you suddenly realize you have no idea what action steps you’re supposed to keep them accountable for. You think to yourself, “Wait a minute… is this the client who came to me with a history of burnout or the one aiming for a promotion?”

Without a record of your coaching process, you may feel uncertain and unprepared in your session and, as a result, fail to deliver the tangible results your client is looking for.

That’s where a coaching log comes in. It will keep your practice organized and focused, track your client’s progress, and hold them accountable.

Let’s explore how an effective coaching log template is made and what makes it so powerful. Feel free to download our free template below to start keeping a record of your coaching hours and your client’s progress.

What is a Coaching Log?

A coaching log is a record-keeping tool coaches use to document session details. These include the client’s progress, goals, and action items.

A coaching log keeps you organized and makes your sessions more impactful by keeping your coaching process focused and your client accountable.

The Benefits of Keeping a Log of Your Coaching Sessions

Writing coaching logs may seem like additional paperwork, but they can help make your coaching practice much more efficient. Here are a few reasons why:

Staying Organized

Many coaches are familiar with the sheer panic of digging through piles of papers and email threads to determine how many sessions they have delivered to a client. A coaching log helps you consistently document your sessions and organize your work.

This way, you’ll see where you are in a particular coaching program or process and whether your client is on track to reach their goals. Keeping your coaching logs in a central location will also require less time preparing for your next session.

Paperbell makes this easy by keeping all your coaching information organized by client, including your notes, session materials, and even your contracts.

Keeping Your Coaching Session Focused

When you sit with clients, you have limited time to move them forward on their coaching journey. Your conversations need an impactful flow, requiring you to always know your next step.

With a coaching log in front of you, you’re always aware of the focus areas and key topics you need to cover with a client. It reminds you of the issues you discussed in the past and the coaching techniques you wanted to go through but didn’t have time for in your previous session.

[ Read: Use This 6-Step Template to Deliver a Powerful Life Coaching Session ]

You’ll always be aware of your client’s progress and what milestone they are heading towards. Plus, you’ll quickly catch patterns in their thinking and behavior, making your coaching approach more transformative.

Sharing Notes With Your Clients

Although your coaching log isn’t something you typically share with your client, it makes it easier to create a session summary later. Sharing notes with your clients about their key insights and commitments makes your coaching process more effective and valuable.

Excellent communication with clients is the foundation of a positive coaching relationship. Keeping a consistent coaching log can contribute to that.

Keeping Your Clients Accountable

Taking notes of your sessions will help you refer back to topics you’ve discussed with your coachee earlier and any repeating themes in your conversations. This step enables you to keep them accountable for habit or behavioral changes.

Additionally, a coaching log lets you record your client’s action items and makes it easier to follow up on them in your next session. Writing an action step down and reading it back to your client will strengthen their sense of responsibility and commitment to their progress. No matter your coaching style, monitoring follow-through is key to guiding your clients in their desired direction.

Fulfilling Your Certification Requirements

If you’re applying for credentials through the International Coach Federation (ICF), you must submit a coaching log that records your paid and pro bono coaching hours. This document should contain your clients’ names, the sessions’ dates, and their duration.

Our previous guide covered how to prepare and submit your coaching log as part of your ICF credential application. This article also contains a free template with the specific details the organization requires as evidence of your coaching experience.

[ Read: The Simplest Way To Complete Your ICF Coaching Log (+ Free Template) ]

In this guide, we’ll explore a more detailed coaching log template and how you can use it for purposes other than fulfilling credentialing criteria.

Keeping a Written Reference of Your Sessions

Documenting your coaching process also comes in handy when facing a dispute with a client. It provides a historical record of what you’ve discussed in your sessions and how many hours you’ve worked together. Depending on your policy, you can refer to it if your client requests a refund.

How Do I Create a Coaching Log?

Let’s break down a coaching log’s key elements and their purpose.

Note Down the Basics

First, write down the essential details of your session:

  • Your client’s name
  • The date of your coaching session
  • The session number in a particular coaching process or program
  • The duration of your session

This will help you find the notes you’re looking at a glance for later. Noting the session number also clarifies how deep you are in the coaching process with the client and how much time you still have left to guide them to their desired outcome.

Create a Rough Agenda

If your coaching style is more laissez-faire and you prefer to keep your sessions fluid, you might not want to lock yourself into a set agenda. However, it’s still important to note down the key topics you must discuss with your client.

For example, you may have issues at the end of your session that you don’t have enough time to go into. You may want to do a longer coaching exercise with a client, or you may connect the dots about their situation after your session is finished.

Defining the key topics and desired outcomes for your coaching session in advance will make it more focused and time-efficient.

Review Progress

Most coaching sessions (other than the first one) will start with checking in on the action items your client has committed to previously and their current reality about their overarching objective. You can ask them why they missed specific action steps, how they felt doing the ones they succeeded in, or how they feel about their progress overall.

This will all inform your session, highlighting where your client stands right now and how far they are from reaching their goals. It will also draw attention to obstacles that need to be tackled that you might not have included in your session agenda.

Note Observations

This is when you dive into the agenda of your session. It may not be exactly what you have planned, but that’s okay.

While you’re in conversation with your client, make a quick note about the following:

  • Any topics you still want to discover in this current session
  • Key insights your client has arrived to
  • Observations about your client’s journey (that you don’t necessarily share with them right away)
  • The main challenges they are facing
  • Any new objectives that arise
  • Coaching exercises and frameworks you’re leading your client through in this session
  • Coaching exercises and frameworks you want to make space for in your upcoming session

This is not the time to make detailed notes since you should focus on facilitating the conversation and actively listening to your client. You can complete these notes later after the session is finished.

Define the Next Steps

Note the exact steps your client will take before your next session. Make sure you read it back to them and ask whether they agree.

Adjust these actions and their time frame so they can commit to them fully. They should challenge your client and move them toward their desired direction without overwhelming them. If you see the slightest sign of resistance, discuss it before you close your session.

This is also where you note down your own action steps. For example, sharing an assessment or additional resource as a homework assignment with your client.

Additional Notes

Once your session is complete, you can make additional observations here and note any coaching tools you want to incorporate in your next session. You don’t have to write an essay; you can even leave this section blank if you have nothing to add to your coaching log.

As long as you are clear on your coaching process (and what your brief remarks mean in your log), you can use the template as you see fit.

create a coaching log

Free Coaching Log Templates

If you’re ready to make the most of your sessions, we have just the perfect coaching log template for you.

If you need to log your coaching hours according to ICF guidelines, head to our ICF coaching log guide.

If you want to use your coaching log for more than just keeping track of your hours, you can use our free coaching log template.

And if you’re looking for more tools to get your coaching business up and running, you might want to look at our free templates pack. It will help you set up a stunning website and coaching package quickly.

How Do You Keep Track of Your Coaching Sessions?

To sum it up, here are the key elements of your coaching sessions you should keep track of:

  • Coaching hours: Log your hours manually, or create a Paperbell account and get it automatically tracked for you. You can download your Paperbell coaching log anytime to submit it for your ICF application.
  • Number of sessions: Instead of getting lost in a maze of email threads, track how many sessions you’ve delivered from a particular contract. Better yet, have Paperbell do it for you.
  • Client progress: Fill out your coaching log with your agenda, observations, and the client’s action steps, and review your notes before you jump into your next session with them.

Pro tip: Don’t schedule coaching calls back to back. Instead, set your sessions to 50 minutes to leave buffer time before the next one. Paperbell lets you set your working hours, buffer time between sessions, and their duration so clients can book your calendar without making it crowded.

Keep Your Coaching Practice Organized With Paperbell

Writing a coaching log for each session is a simple way to make them more impactful. However, keeping the rest of your business organized is just as important.

To streamline the admin side of your coaching practice, we recommend Paperbell.

It’s an all-in-one client management tool specifically designed for coaches by coaches. It handles your contracts, schedule, payments, landing pages, and more.

Try Paperbell for free with your first client.

coaching log template

By Annamaria Nagy
Annamaria Nagy is a Brand Identity Coach and Copywriter. She's been writing for over 10 years about topics like personal development, coaching, and business. She was previously the Head of SEO at the leading transformational education company, Mindvalley.
April 5, 2024

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