Data is the key to understanding anything. From science to sales — data drives most company decisions. So if you want to make progress toward your business goals, you have to start by gathering data. And one of the best ways to gather data is to track and measure your progress. Reviewing the data allows you to make tweaks and better decisions as you move forward.
Anything can be tracked — time, preferences, usages — anything. They key is to know what to track, for how long, and what to do with the data when it is collected.
For example, tracking time. If you track how much time you spend on each activity, you will have a better understanding of how effective you are spending your time. You'll be able to determine if you are making progress toward your goals; and if you're not, it will help you make any changes needed to get you back on track. In other words, tracking your time for each work-related activity can tell you if that activity is worth the time it takes. Does it contribute to or detract from your goals?
You can then assign each task a priority level based on how large the contribution is.
As far as how to track, well that's fairly straightforward. There are apps that can help you track your time, record it, and offer graphs to review. Or, if you're feeling particularly old school, pens and planners work just as well, too. Review your progress consistently — look for patterns that might warrant changes.
More than likely, your tracking system is going to depend on the exact metric you're tracking. Social media conversions will require a separate set of tools than measuring the ROI of mailing out samples, putting together catalogs, or building an email campaign.
So, to make progress and measure the effectiveness of your work activities, here are a few steps to take:
- Write down exactly what you want to track
- Find an appropriate tool to use for tracking each metric
- Stay consistent, tracking daily or weekly as applicable for each tool
- Review the data weekly or monthly to determine efficiency and need for changes
- Review your tools occasionally to make sure the data is accurate and the process works for you
When reviewing your sales data, look for patterns. Are your sales seasonal? Did they increase after a webinar or guest appearance? What other triggers might happen right before a boost or drop in sales? Are traffic and sales coming from a specific blog post, sales page, or social media post?
Once you know and understand these things, tracking this information makes it simple to replicate the activity again for consistent results.
Data makes the world go 'round. But it's only as effective as your analysis and use of it. Tracking your progress is an essential way to gather data which will help you prove where your time is being spent and determine your best pathway to success.