A spreadsheet-for your to-do-list

There are about seven-zillion to-do list apps and templates available on the internet.

This another one 

It's is a simple, but powerful, spreadsheet.  If you use it, you can easily use standard Excel commands to:
  • Sort it, to put the most urgent / important things at the top (or the bottom, ).
  • Calculate things, like time needed or urgent X important - or any other measure you want
  • Add columns to keep extra details you need
  • Remove (or hide) columns that you don't want .

  • Make summaries of what you've achieved, eg to prepare for your performance review.
    This is why I developed and use this tool, rather than a task-tracking app which doesn't give me full-control over the data.
I've used this approach many different jobs.  You could also use it for keeping track of any group of tasks, for example job hunting, running voluntary groups, household management.

What does this to-do list look like

Download a blank version of this to-do list spreadsheet template

  Right-click on the the picture.

Choose Save as  or Save link or whatever command your browser has for saving a file from the web to your computer.

How to use this spreadsheet-based to-do list 

Don't touch the first row - it is used to calculate the next available ID number, and it updates itself as you add tasks.

Each task that you need to track or remember about goes on a separate line.

There are three things you need to do to use any to-do list too:
  • Add tasks to the list as you get them.
  • Update the list as work is completed, changes or become unnecessary / impossible.
  • Regularly review the list to see where you are at:  what you have to do, and also what you have achieved.
What tasks you put in, and what level of detail you go to is totally up to you: this isn't your manager's project managing tool, it's your tool for managing yourself.   I always include some of my own (work-related) objectives, eg courses to complete, topics to investigate, nice-to-have extras that I could do and which will look good at performance review time.

How to add a task to your to-do list

Move to an empty row at the bottom (or insert one in the middle if you like).

Type the number from cell B1 into the ID column:  don't copy it, you need to type it in, or use Edit > Paste-special>Values.   (When you do this, the value in B1 will be updated, for next time.)

Fill in the date you found out about the task.

Leave Week-completed blank (unless you're recording something you've already done!).

Fill in the Status: 
  • Can you start now? Make it Active. 
  • Are you waiting for something/someone? Set status to Waiting. 
  • Do you need to do it more than once? Make it On-going (or add a separate row for each time you have to do it, if that makes more sense, eg a monthly report).
Put a summary into the Task column:  write in enough text to remember the task, and look good on a summary report.

Fill in values for :
  • Urgent: How soon you need to do it. (I use values 1, 2, 3 and 9 - you can use any numbers that suit you)
  • Important: How much does it matter to you, your manager or the company. Agian, I use 1,2,3 or 9
After you do this, the Rank calculates itself, provided you've put numbers into Urgent and Important

Fill in whatever other columns you are using, for example:
  • From - put the name of the manager, customer, colleague etc who gave you the task here - anything you need to remember where the work came from
  • Category - use this for grouping similar tasks together, eg you might have Administration, Report development, Training, Pre-sales - or whatever categories will help you later on. Or leave it blank, if you'll never need to group your tasks.

Notes: put any other words that don't belong on a summary report here - details of where you're up to, key names, locations, deadlines.

How to use the to-do list to manage your work

Every so often (eg every day, week - however often things change) look at the list, and update it:

If you've finished a task, change the status to Complete, and fill in the Week-complete value.

If a task is no longer required, and you haven't done any (significant) work on it, change the status to Superseded, and leave week-complete blank.

If a task is no longer required, and you have done some work on it that you want to remember, change the description to show what you actually did and change the status to Complete, and fill in the Week-complete value.

Check the values of Urgent and Important for all your Active tasks: have they changed?

Make sure you have added any new tasks you were given recently.

Re-apply the Sort, so that the highest priority tasks are at the top. 

Plan your time based on what needs to be done - or ask for help if you're not going to get everything done.

Remember, this is YOUR list. Many things on it will be on your manager's project plan(s). But your personal development, and the extra things you want to achieve won't be. This is where you can track them, and manage your own performance.

How to use the to-do list to prepare for your performance review

Use Excel's filters feature to only look at tasks with Complete status, where the Week-Completed is in the time period that your performance review is for.   

This is a list of what you have achieved, at task level.   List each achievement that you want to highlight under one of the objectives in your performance agreement.   This gives you solid evidence about what you did, and when you did it - without having to look back through old files.

To make this even easier, add a column called Goal or Target to your spreadsheet.   As you enter each task, also make a note of which of your goals it contributes to.

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