Geeks on Campus

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My Best Advice

Posted by jeggent on June 27, 2014

biweeklyReportOk, so the title may be overstating things slightly.  However I do feel very strongly about this piece of advice.  This tip doesn’t really qualify as productivity or motivational but I think it’s related to both.

Record and Report Your Accomplishments!

For many years I did not see the value in spending much time recording and reporting my activities.  I felt like my time was better used doing “actual work” rather than talking about what I’ve already done.  I don’t remember exactly what the turning point was; but I do remember that I had several false starts.

— Record —

Having a good system for recording your accomplishments makes this entire process much easier.  I think this is an example of the 80/20 rule.  Most of the content for my reports come from my e-mail in Outlook.  I created an e-mail folder called “Done”.  Everything that could possibly be put on a list of accomplishments simply gets dragged into the Done folder.  My other source for items is my Trello board. I have a “Done” list on my Trello board.  When items are finished off of the other lists they get dragged onto the Done list.  If any other items are done that don’t have an e-mail or a Trello card, it is a simple matter to quickly create a card on the Done list.  Capturing accomplishments in these ways takes very little time or effort.

— Report —

I do a biweekly list of accomplishments and project status updates.  I do a bulleted listing and always keep it to a single page.  As I said before, I had a number of false starts with regular reporting.  Weekly reports were too often, there was often not enough content for a weekly report and I couldn’t stay motivated to do a report each week.  With a monthly report, too many things were being forgotten or dropped for space.  For me a biweekly, high level listing is just perfect.  After creating the report you can archive the Trello cards and delete the e-mails from their Done containers.

— Reward —

There are a number of advantages to creating and sending out a regular update such as this.  The most obvious is that people know that you are working.  Another, maybe less apparent point, is that most people don’t do this.  So you automatically look better by comparison.  Your supervisor will also very much appreciate getting the updates without having to ask.  Then when it comes time to do annual reports or performance reviews, you have a great source of content.  These regular updates have been very helpful to me.  Maybe you would also find some value in doing something similar.