5 Ways to Track Your Progress (And Why it's so Important) - RescueTime - Deepstash

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5 Ways to Track Your Progress (And Why it's so Important) - RescueTime

https://blog.rescuetime.com/track-progress/

blog.rescuetime.com

5 Ways to Track Your Progress (And Why it's so Important) - RescueTime
As human beings, we're hardwired to want to cross things off a list. However, large, complex projects don't work this way. To stay committed to the work that matters most, we need to find ways to measure and track the progress we make every single day.

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Key Ideas

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Completion bias

It's where your brain specifically seeks the hit of dopamine you get from crossing off small tasks and ignores working on larger, more complex ones.

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Small wins and motivation

Out of all the things that can boost our mood and motivation, the single most important is making progress on meaningful work.

Just like we love crossing small tasks off our to-do...

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“Most of us make advances small and large every single day, but we fail to notice them because we lack a method for acknowledging our progress. This is a huge loss.”

Jocelyn K. Glei

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Why we feel busier than ever

... but feel like nothing gets done:

  • Our days are filled with meaningless, busy-work (like answering emails).
  • We’ve lost the ability to set meaningful, effective goals.
  • W...

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Tracking progress is a powerful tool

It keeps you motivated and productive.

You become more purposeful about the work you do. And that can create the kind of meaning that so many of us search for in our daily work. You...

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Break out large tasks

...  into smaller pieces and visualize them.

When you’re facing a large project, your first step should be to break it out into smaller goals. Then, break those goals down into sm...

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Set daily quotas

... and start every day at zero.

Rather than simply looking at your overall progress on a project, set smaller daily quotas.

If your goal is especially complex, a quota can be ea...

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Track your metrics on a calendar

Pick a metric (or two) that makes sense for you and then track how many days you hit it.

Your calendar becomes a large, visual reminder of your progress (and also brings in the power of st...

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Write in a diary

... for 5 minutes a day.

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to write about what you worked on. Make sure to note both your “small wins” and any setbacks.

At the end ...

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“The more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or s...

Teresa Amabile

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James Clear

“If you want to summarize the habits of successful people into one phrase, it’s this: successful people start before they feel ready.”

James Clear

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Learning how to prioritize...

...means getting more out of the limited time you have each day. It’s one of the cornerstones of productivity and once you know how to properly prioritize, it can help with everything from your time management to work life balance.

Master lists

Capture everything on a Master List and then break it down by monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

  1. Start by making a master list—a document, app, or piece of paper where every current and future task will be stored. 
  2. Once you have all your tasks together, break them down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
  3. When setting your priorities, try not to get too “task oriented” - you want to make sure you’re prioritizing the more effective work.

Eisenhower Matrix

The matrix is a simple four-quadrant box that answers that helps you separate “urgent” tasks from “important” ones:

  • Urgent and Important: Do these tasks as soon as possible
  • Important, but not urgent: Decide when you’ll do these and schedule it
  • Urgent, but not important: Delegate these tasks to someone else
  • Neither urgent nor important: Drop these from your schedule as soon as possible.

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Being purposeful with your day

Being purposeful with your day

Time management is about taking control of the time you do have available and using it optimally for productivity while creating balance.

How to plan your day

Much advice about time management is about creating a to-do list, reminding you what you want to do. However, it's more important to use a schedule, which tells you when you're going to do it.

  • Create "bookends" for each day. Consider your morning and evening routines, then "block" in time for your most important tasks. For example, a 2-hour writing-block every morning after breakfast.
  • Set aside time for your most important projects. The object is to be purposeful about what and when you're going to do something.
  • Schedule in breaks. A schedule has to be realistic. That means including time for breaks, food, exercise, social time, and other "non-school" tasks that keep you happy.

Be aware of how you’re spending your time

To build a better time management system, you need to know what you currently spend your time on. You need to know where you're losing time to the wrong things.

To track your time, spend a few days writing a "time log" to track how you spend your day.

The urgency bias

The urgency bias

We usually give priority to unimportant tasks when there is a sense of urgency around them.

We’re actually psychologically wired to put aside important tasks in favor of tasks that feel more urgent. But spending our time taking care of urgent tasks can leave us feeling exhausted and unaccomplished.

Why it’s hard to ignore urgent tasks

A few explanations as to why it’s so hard to reject urgent tasks:

  • The completion bias. Our brains crave the reward we get from checking off small to-dos from our list.
  • Tunnel vision: When we get overwhelmed by the things we have to do, we choose to act on those most available to us; these are usually emails, calls, meetings, and other low-friction tasks.

Urgency puts us into reactive mode

The problem is that we’re continually bombarded with urgent work: emails, meetings, calls, and instead of being in control of our time and attention, we respond and act on someone else’s priorities.