How I use my task tracker to know if I’m achieving my objectives

I previous wrote about my system for tracking work and checking where I’m focusing. Like all good systems, it is constantly evolving. Most task management system expect the user to predict when they’ll do a task, but this one tracks what I actually did and gives me the data to figure out if I’m doing the right things.

Connecting daily tasks to long-standing objectives

I have four long-standing objectives, ongoing outcomes that will never be achieved but which guide what I work on. They used to seem a bit vague as I had no way of connecting them to the work I do.

I grouped all the things I work on under each of the four objectives to make it easier to count tasks for each objective. It only one that doesn’t fit is Admin tasks. These are about 10% of the things I do, which means 90% of my work contributes to my objectives.

Task tracker dashboard showing how many tasks were completed on each day between the beginning of August and 20th October.

I set-up a tab for reporting on my four objectives by number of tasks, and, more interestingly, by percentage. This is the most useful part as it helps me ask myself if I’m focusing on the right work, and whether I should do more for an objective.

Table showing percentage of tasks and number of tasks completed each month.

Finding out who I work with

As an experiment, I’m going to track how many times I interact with different people. This should show me two things; the number of different people I talk to, and how much I talk to each of them. I’m expecting to see that there are some people I spend lots of time with and others I speak to only occasionally. One of my objectives depends on spending time with more people across the organisation, so this should give me some data on how to improve on achieving that.

Monthly priorities

I used to set a few goals for each project at the start of the month, but things would change so much over those weeks that I’d almost never achieve them. Instead, I’m going to switch my monthly planning to be about priorities rather than goals, and about the four objectives rather than each of the sixteen projects. These aren’t trackable yet, but I review them at the end of each month a colour them green, amber or red for how much I actually focused on them.

Weekly goals

I always start the week by thinking about achievable goals. Just like the monthly priorities, these are trackable yet but are reviewed and colour-coded. I’m still pretty poor at choosing goals that are actually achievable but I’m going to keep doing it to see what else I can learn and how I might be able to connect them to the daily tasks.

What next?

Make it open – I could create a Google Docs version in case anyone else wants to try it.

Team sport – It occurred to me that this type of tracker could be used by a team just as easily as by one person. I doubt I’ll put it into practice but I might think a bit more about how it would work.