My personal data analysis of my tasks reveals that I completed less tasks in 2020 compared to 2019. Even though I had a consistent weekly goal completion rate, I failed to reach several of my major goals. Most impacted when it comes to this blog and other goals was the drop in writing I did. I simply spent less time writing by a large margin and by extention wrote less words and published less articles. Interestingly, I had more meetings this last year than previous years, which may relate to a shift in my work and volunteering, but I also suspect it relates to a broader societal change as more people were available for video calls.
Let’s take a look at my year in tasks, projects and goals!
Total Completed 1708 Tasks
Compared to 2019 when I completed 1829 tasks, I completed 121 less tasks in 2020.
Weekly Goal Score
Noteable here is a drop in goal completion in week 37. All in all it was a fairly consistent goal completition rate
Breakdown of Tasks Completed by Project
Creative Writing by Word Count from Aug 2019 to Jan 2021
What Tool am I digitally writing and taking notes with?
Winner: Typora and The Archive
NOTE: I suspect now that The Archive supports inline images that this usage rate may shift away from Typora going forward.
How I Track My Tasks and Goals
Todoist: For tasks and productivity management, I remain pretty married to Todoist as my primary task manager and task tracker. Todoist is a well-designed product that aligns with my Getting Things Done productivity philosophy. As I wrote about in Tracking Your Tasks with Todoist, Todoist has both an internal “gamified” task tracker and a solid integration with IFTTT. This enables me to create a Google Spreadsheet of my completed tasks and generate simple reports for my weekly and monthly tasks completed.
DIY Weekly Goal Tracker and Scoring: I’ve been doing a weekly review and setting weekly goals for a number of years. A bit over a year ago I adapted a scoring system from Cal Newport for weekly goal “scoring”. The basic idea goes like this. Each week I set one or two major objectives and a few minor ones. At the end of each week, I give 1.5 points for each of the two major objectives. For the minor objectives, I take the percentage completed and multiply it by 3. I add these scores together to get my weekly score. The max score is technically 6 but I generally think about it as a score between 0 and 5. It’s simple and fun and keeps me accountable week to week.
- Total Tasks Completed: 1,708 (compared to 1829 tasks in 2019)
- Daily Task Average: 5.6
- Monthly Task Average: 142.3
- 291 tasks on Networking / Career (meaning I still did a lot of calls and meetings in 2020)
- 171 tasks on Productivity / Self-Tracking
- 161 tasks on Startup Boost
- 139 tasks on Studies
- 4.09 was my weekly goal score average, which means my goal-oriented outcomes were pretty aligned throughout the year.
Conclusions: Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead
While in many ways the lack of travel caused by COVID-19 meant I was probably more at home and “desk bound” than normal. So theoretically I could have been more productive and more task oriented than I was. Unfortunately I wasn’t as productive in terms of total tasks completed as I could have been.
All in all, my personal data analysis of my tasks revealed that I completed 120 or so less tasks in 2020 compared to 2019. I also didn’t hit many of my major goals for the year either.
I’ve long been an advocate of the goal-oriented life and productivty. But 2020 and COVID-19 had an impact on my attention, mindset and output. There was also a confluence of other factors in my life in 2020 that affects my work too, namely moving countries (from China to the US), higher financial and consulting demands now that I live in the US and new relationships.
There is no doubt that many, myself included, had to severely modify my goals I had set last year. No more travel and many of my epic goals needed to be paused as I took a break and figure out what mattered to me. That said, in view of my goal scores, I remained active and productive throughout the year. In fact, I’d argue that my goal score were steadier in 2020 compared to 2021, meaning I was generally more consistent in completed the goals I set.
In view of the on-going challenges around COVID-19 in my immediate surrounding, for 2021 I didn’t set quite as ambitious of goals as I could have if there was no pandemic. No plans for half or full marathons. No jet-setting to multiple companies either. Instead many of my health goals are around consistency and habits. Daily exercise. Regular and adeqate sleep. I am all about thinking about self-care and cultivated good mental health hygiene.
In spite of many limitations and challenges, I have set some ambitious targets for the year ahead. I want to write and publish more. Ideally at least a dozen or so blog posts and hopefully a book. My recent increase in creative word count and this blog post constiute a couple steps in that direction. The lockdown resulted in me learning the basics of music production last year. I plan to continue learning, making music and putting out a beat or song regularly on my soundcloud. As a product designer and software engineer, I have plans to design and launch a couple products in the year ahead too.
All things considered I focus much less on a long-term vision and simply show up and do the “laps” necessary to make progress on things that matter to me.