Progress tracking is crucial if you want to stay on course with your goals and projects. Without clarity on how you're moving forward, it's easy to lose motivation and veer off course without being aware.
When you track your progress and reach set goals, your brain releases dopamine, the happiness and reward hormone, making you feel more confident and motivated to continue your work. You can harness this tendency — and the other benefits of progress tracking — to make yourself become more productive and achieve your goals.
This article shares five ways to track the progress of your projects. We'll also discuss how doing so helps you improve your productivity.
How Tracking Your Progress Improves Productivity
Apart from keeping you motivated, progress tracking improves productivity in the following ways:
- Provides a channel to assess your performance against project baselines: Progress tracking provides data that helps you compare your performance and delivery on tasks and projects with established baselines. You can see how you're doing compared to your project plan as well as identify and correct any deviations between your plan and performance.
- Helps maintain a connection to long-term goals: It's easy to check out and lose interest in long-term goals when there are no progress trackers to show momentum. Progress tracking helps you recognize how much you're doing, even when the eventual goal or project delivery is still far off.
- Helps collect and curate data to prove a point: Tracking project progress makes it easy to collect real-time data to prove a point or support a claim. For example, time tracking provides proof of how many hours you've worked and what you’ve worked on.
- Makes it clear what to work on and discard: When you track your progress, you can pinpoint what methods, tools, and strategies are most effective in producing desired results. This helps you allocate time and resources efficiently and streamline your workflows to operate faster.
5 Ways to Make Progress Tracking a Part of Your Process
The first step in tracking your progress is to clarify your goals and desired outcomes. This gives you a sense of direction, purpose, and focus. You know what you must do and in what order. Clear goals reduce mental clutter and limit time-wasting. You understand the value you're trying to create and can better communicate it to your team members and stakeholders.
Start tracking your progress by writing down your goals. Keep this somewhere you can see it while you work. It could be a post-it on your laptop or office wall, or it could be written down in a notepad or smartphone app.
Remind yourself often why you're working on your goals, and choose the best of the approaches below to track progress while you execute. You may find it helpful to use more than one of the following progress tracking methods.
1. Time Tracking
Time tracking is an excellent way to document how much time you spend on specific tasks and your entire workday. Depending on your metrics, time-tracking provides helpful data to track your progress and see how much time you've put in and how much time you have left to complete work on a project.
This information helps you determine if you need to speed up your work or can afford to take things easy and still meet the project schedule. With time tracking, you can anticipate delays and project costs.
One option is to record how much time you spend on deliverables and tasks related to your projects in a document or spreadsheet. Make sure to include a start and end time for each task. Alternatively, you can use a time-tracking software like Rize to capture this information automatically.
2. Task Management
Task management means breaking down your project goals into actionable pieces you can tackle over time to maintain momentum and achieve your goal. To manage your tasks successfully, define your tasks and organize them in a way that makes it easy to see what you have to do and when you have to do it.
You can use a to-do list app or manually arrange them using sticky notes or a notepad. As you complete each task, check it off using the app or remove the sticky note from where you've placed them. This helps you see how much you've achieved and what's left to complete. Completing individual tasks can serve as progress trackers, helping to increase your motivation and keep you going until you deliver a successful project.
3. Daily Journaling
Writing in a work journal or diary is an easy way to manage progress tracking. Spend time reflecting each day, and write down what you did in a notepad or smartphone app. Your daily entries will add up over time and provide an informed account of how you're progressing on your goals and projects.
To make this even more useful, identify metrics that are useful to your goals and track them in your journal each day. For example, a sales rep may document how many sales they made, and a software developer may write down how many bugs they fixed. You can prepare questions to prompt your entries and provide more context and structure to your journaling — e.g., what went right and wrong at work today, or what tasks am I carrying over to the next day?
4. Meetings That Foster Accountability
Accountability is powerful. Scheduling meetings with your team members or an accountability partner is a practical way to keep up your progress tracking on collaborative projects. Use this approach to review and communicate updates on your projects. You can share wins and challenges as well as take the time to reflect on what went right or wrong during a period.
Team meetings are a great way to reflect on your accomplishments and prepare for what you have left to do. You can exchange status reports documenting your progress, learn from your team members' experiences, and motivate each other to tackle your remaining tasks.
An important note, however, is to schedule the meetings in a way that enhances and doesn't interrupt your work. You don’t want to have meetings too often or not often enough, as this will make the benefits of the meeting fall to the side.
5. Project Management Software
Project management platforms take away the manual aspect of managing tasks. These software use automation to streamline and simplify workflows, from planning to execution and reviews. Most project management tools offer visual project tracking functionality, such as Kanban boards and Gantt charts.
Use project management tools to break your goals and projects into actionable tasks with defined due dates. Set up automatic notifications, so you always know what to do and never miss a deadline. Some project management tools maintain daily streaks and send activity reports summarizing your progress.
Use Rize to Track Your Progress
Progress tracking helps to maintain motivation for your goals and projects, no matter how long they take to complete. You can manage it using one or a combination of the five approaches we've shared.
Manually tracking your time and progress can be time-consuming and unreliable. Time-tracking apps like Rize make progress tracking easier and more accurate. They also help cut down on paperwork and provide better insights into how you’re actually spending your time.
Are you ready to take control of the ebb and flow of your projects and workdays? Start using the Rize time tracking app today.