The following is adapted from The Irreverent Guide to Project Management.
In project management, one of the most important things we do is to create a daily status report. Every day, we publish a list of the things we accomplished, the things we’re planning to accomplish the following day, and three things for which we’re grateful. These reports are designed to communicate to our team and clients that we are moving our projects forward as aggressively as possible, thereby ensuring transformational outcomes.
Even if you aren’t in project management, communicating your daily progress is an extremely valuable habit to develop—even if you’re just communicating it to yourself. Read on to find out how this simple practice can radically alter your perspective on work.
Become an Expert Communicator
Malcolm Gladwell found that the difference between an overachieving novice and an expert is 10,000 hours of practice. A daily status report gives you the opportunity to practice formulating and communicating accomplishments. Being task-oriented is useful, but sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you sit down at the end of the day and document how your work has advanced your goals, and plan your next steps, your overall progress will become more assured.
Plus, if you can clearly and crisply communicate your accomplishments in writing, both past, and future, you will also be able to do so in meetings when addressing your team, executive stakeholders, and the client. The leader that can master a daily report will have no problems influencing C-level executives, successfully leading enormous enterprise projects, or achieving the notoriety and financial success that accompanies those accomplishments.
Grow Your Leadership Skills
Crisp communication of actual accomplishments versus communicating the minutiae of the project’s daily activities is what differentiates a leader from a note-taker.
When you’re creating your status report, remember that simply working on something is not an accomplishment. Instead, try to list things that moved your project forward. For example, attending a meeting is not an accomplishment. List what you accomplish in the meeting that moved your project forward is. Reviewing a document is not an accomplishment. Documenting the purpose of the review and its outcome is an accomplishment. Assuming there was an outcome!
Build-in Time to Plan
A daily report not only gives you the opportunity to communicate your daily accomplishments but also to think through, develop, and communicate what you will accomplish the next day. This ensures that you are clear on how to move your project forward, and it shows that you are prepared to move your project forward, no matter how many impediments or unexpected circumstances you encounter each day.
If you are in need of support, this will become clear as you articulate your progress. It also helps you recognize any blindspots you might have missed throughout the day.
Earn Your Autonomy
Autonomy comes with credibility, and having a clear sense of your progress will allow you to be clearer with your team and managers. By spending time intentionally thinking about your accomplishments, you’ll be ready to share these successes with your colleagues, and you will also show that you are prepared. Showing the people around you that you are making progress will inspire them with more confidence in your abilities.
Express Your Gratitude
I recommend that you reflect each day, not just about your accomplishments, but also about three things that you are grateful for that day. Work can be stressful, and it’s easy to get bogged down in the hectic day-to-day pace. But there is a direct and powerful correlation between gratitude and well-being, and science has shown that people can’t be happy and stressed at the same time.
If you document your gratitude daily, your brain will become accustomed to scanning the world for the positive, which, in a short period of time, will increase your happiness levels and reduce stress. If you share your daily reports with team members, this also allows everyone to share in the gratitude of others, and it creates a ripple effect.
Choose three things that actually happened on the day you’ve logged them, and try to be as specific as possible. It’s much more effective to be grateful for the hot dog you had at lunch than to be grateful for something large and abstract, like freedom.
The Bottom Line
This exercise helps you stay on track and motivated, but it also reframes the hard work that you do each day. Suddenly, it becomes clear that the dull report you are expected to write actually helped you move your project toward completion. The paperwork that your company made you fill out has a concrete purpose, and it’s not just menial work. You can see that staying on top of your email is effective and important, not just a tedious thing to check off the to-do list. Focusing on your progress on a daily basis will show you that each day is an opportunity for growth and forward movement.
For more advice on daily growth, you can find The Irreverent Guide to Project Management on Amazon.
From the start of his career spent jumping out of helicopters in the United States Navy, J. Scott has a long history of leadership, servanthood, and bearing witness to the transformative power of getting shit done. Since starting 120VC he's personally overseen the global transformational efforts within organizations such as DirecTV, Trader Joe's, Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Mattel, and others. His team's unique, irreverent approach to change has generated breakthrough results and created meaningful jobs. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, J. Scott is a devoted husband and father and author of "It's Never Just Business: It's About People," and "The Irreverent Guide to Project Management," both available on Amazon.com.