How To Create An Effective Productivity Tracking System

Making effort every day and tracking it using  Microsoft excel or Evernote adds up to a lot really fast. This is my spreadsheet tracking the work I did each day over the last year.

excel tracking

If you look at it, it doesn’t look like I’m doing that much. I have days where I have zero output. The first column is the date, the second column is how many Udemy lectures I upload. I teach courses online and the number of videos I upload is a basic function of my productivity. The next column is what course I worked on, my notes, how many questions I answered. The YouTube videos I uploaded are in the last column.

It doesn’t look like I’m doing that much. Most days, about 2 – 3 hours on average is what I work. You might think that’s not much. If I was going into an office, I could do a lot more.

Let’s put it this way, if you told anyone I need 1000 videos, 1000 blog posts, 1000 pages written, it sounds like a lot. In fact, it sounds like I can’t do a thousand videos. I’m only doing a few videos a day. That doesn’t add up to anything.

Put this in terms of your life in whatever you’re trying to accomplish. You can use it to lose weight, take better care of yourself, or make something. This is what I’m doing. What’s amazing is what it adds up to.

Here it is! 1679 lectures I’ve added up in the last year. It doesn’t look like much because I’m just doing a little bit every day. I’ve answered thousands of questions and created thousands of YouTube videos. You would need an army in terms of videos online and I’m able to do it all myself because I make a little effort every day. There are stretches of zero here, like where Madeline was born:

excel tracking baby

There are stretches where I take some time off or try to do something else. I’ve got videos uploaded on Call of Duty and I didn’t make any lectures. It’s okay to have some zero days where you don’t do anything. Making an effort to do something as many days as possible, combined with tracking it allows me to do an amazing amount of productive work.

These two things combined are effective. when you have a day when you have zero, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing anything. You can feel like you  haven’t been that productive lately, or you’re slacking. It’s easy to go off into indefinite zero productivity. Whether it was school work or working out more often, I would have a zero week and it would just drop from there.

Making an effort every day if you can is great to do the majority of the work and the spreadsheet then. When I have a stretch of zero productivity, the spreadsheet proves to me that I’ve been doing a lot of good. All I need to do is make a little bit of effort every day.

If you’re trying to get healthier, be in better shape, you could track minutes walked. I used my fitness pal and I do the same thing with my exercise and my eating. It’s made an amazing difference in my health. To make room for this, I clear out things that are not producing anything. For example, I used to play a game on my phone. I’ve stopped playing that game, but with the same time and energy, I now use my Fitness Pal to track my calories and I exercise every day. I stopped taking clients last year and shortly after I did that then the spreadsheet started.

It’s amazing what you can average by setting an attainable, immediate goal. When I started this spreadsheet, my goal was to do two lectures every single day. Starting out, if I look at the first month, I made 3.2 lectures on average every day. If I said I need to set out to do 100, that would’ve been overwhelming, but I set out a simple goal to do two daily. Now, I try to do one every day because some days trying to do two is too much.

One is the biggest difference. The difference between zero and one is the biggest difference in the world. The average of my work all year comes up to about 4.7 every single day. There are a lot of days where I’m able to do 13 in one day, but at the same time I try not to go overboard. I notice if I go over 10, I’m going overboard and it’s time to stop.

I try to keep it under 10 so I don’t do too much in one day. However, some days I do 14 or 15, in a row. I have streaks where I’m productive and I have streaks where I’m not so productive. Tracking it allows me to learn all this about myself. It allows me to see what I’m doing with honest perspective. It’s easy to tell stories of what I’m doing or how I’m doing it that aren’t true or  based on a small amount of data. It’s easy to get lost and get off track that way. I’m thinking about this today because the things I create for other people are a big part of my daily life.

This spreadsheet captures a huge element of me feeling useful and of service to the human race every day. Without this spreadsheet, I don’t have accountability and proof that I’m doing something useful every day. This one little spreadsheet helps me out a lot. That’s why I shared it with you here today.

I pray today that I remember the tools that help me take care of myself, hold me accountable, and minimize the stories I tell. I pray to do my best to make an effort today and every day to work a little bit on the things that are important. I pray to take care of myself, my relationships, my work, and service to the world. I pray that this gives you the same insight into your own life. If you need an additional tool, you can start tracking the things that are most important in your life today. You can feel motivated to make a little effort in something today that matters. Thank you for reading this. I would love your feedback on it as always and I hope you have a great day today.