How To Measure Progress Effectively

Setting goals can increase your overall productivity and sharpen your focus on something that matters to you. Each goal is backed by a plan to reach it but a good plan is only one tool on the journey. Measuring your progress is an essential part of prioritizing the tasks, estimating the time and effort it will take to reach the goal, and most importantly – how to adjust your plan. All this can speed up your progress in the long run.

The first step to being able to measure your progress is to make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. Read an article of S.M.A.R.T goals here

Why it’s important to measure progress

Measuring your progress on a regular basis when working towards a goal will act as a guide to achieving it. Analyzing your progress will help you understand which actions contribute to your progress, which of them are the most effective, and which actions are holding you back or simply not working. This data helps you to adjust your strategy and find the bottlenecks and solve them. Measuring progress can also act as a motivational boost through confirmation that you are indeed closer to your goal than you were a month or a year ago.

Documenting and measuring progress

An effective method for measuring progress is documenting it. Use a planner to record your overall goals, milestones, and subtasks paired with deadlines. Check off the tasks you’ve completed and use the pressure from deadlines to plan which ones should be prioritized next. The information from your planner may help you understand if you need to adjust your timeframe or add a new task.

For tasks that should be performed daily, use a habit tracker app or simply a spreadsheet to mark them as complete or incomplete. Think of the numeric measures you can take daily

  • Steps taken
  • Words written
  • Hours slept
  • E-mails sent
  • Sales calls made
  • Calories consumed
  • Minutes worked out
  • Pages read

This data will be the source for measuring your progress objectively and honestly

4 types of progress

Progress happens to the results but also actions. In addition to knowing how close you are to reach your goals, it’s important to pay attention to how well you are taking the actions to reach them. Progress is an indication of how well we are doing right now but also what lever are we capable of maintaining over a longer period of time.

These four characteristics define the four types of measurements for progress

Performance measures the progress of capability

Performance is the measure of results over time. It is defined by the result moving in time towards the end target or desired level. It tells you your current capability compared to the same capability in the past and also gives a prediction for the future. This is something that can be measured as a numeric rate in a fixed period of time

  • Profitability per month
  • Hit versus miss ratio of performing a habit per week
  • The time it takes to run 5k
  • Passed to failed test ratio per development sprint
  • Average rating per month

Activity measures the progress of habits

Activity measures the behaviors or habits that are helpful when improving performance. Without the context of end results, they don’t say much, but tracking them can provide data that can be used to measure performance.

  • Books read in a month
  • New clients per month
  • Workouts per week
  • Number of nights with 8 hours of sleep

Quota measures the progress of tasks

A plan to reach a goal can involve several tasks you need to do on a daily or weekly basis in a certain amount. These are tasks that are often repeatable and their level of completion can be measured in numbers. To have them measurable, they should have an expected level to be reached in a period of time.

  • Number of pages written
  • Number of active minutes or steps taken in a day
  • Sales calls made
  • Emails processed

Status measures the cumulative progress toward a score or a total

Status gives you the progress you’re at toward reaching the final goal.

  • Chapters left to be written
  • Annyal budget remaining
  • Weight to lose
  • Criteria to meet to earn a status or a badge

Which type of progress matters the most?

One a path towards a goal it’s important to learn all four types of progress in a way that supports each other. Quota can build the discipline to complete the daily tasks to required level. By meeting those levels daily you will increase the level you can sustain a higher activity measure. By sustaining higher activity scores you will most likely improve your performance and thus make more progress on the status progress