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A Weekly Progress Report Will Keep You Updated and On-Task

by The Procrastinating Writer on July 22, 2009

courtesy of Orin Optiglot

courtesy of Orin Optiglot

By Jennifer Blanchard

Do you ever feel like you’re always busy doing something with your writing, and yet you never feel like you’re accomplishing anything?

I often feel this way; especially lately as the burnout has crept in.

I brought it up to my writing coach and she suggested I send her a weekly progress report that details everything I’m working on, including all the small steps.

I finally did my first one tonight, and I’m amazed at how I already feel like I got more done.

Here’s why:

  • A progress report details every little step you have to take to get from point A to point B.
  • A progress report helps you keep track of what you’ve completed and what still needs to be done.
  • A progress report forces you to really see how much you’ve accomplished.

If you think a weekly progress report will help you, here are some steps you should take:

  1. Find a Reliability Buddy (RB) or someone supportive you can send your progress report to each week and will help you stay on track.
  2. Sit down with a notepad and pen or your computer and write down every project you’re working on.
  3. Underneath each project name, make a list of all the steps you have to take to get where you want to go.For example, one of the projects on your list might be write a novel. So some items you list below it should include: Fill out plot sheet, fill out character sheets for main characters, create plot outline, write prologue, write chapter one, write chapter two, etc.

    Including every, single step, no matter how small, is the key to the most effective progress report.

  4. Check things off as you finish them.
  5. Add items as things come up.
  6. At the end of the week, send your progress report to your RB
  7. Be sure to read through your list, as well and bask in the glory of all you accomplished.

At the beginning of each week, write down the goals you have for the week. Goals can include anything, but some examples could be: work on novel, finish freelance article, contact client about their website.

The more details you include on your progress report, the better you’ll feel at the end of the week when you look back and see what you’ve actually accomplished.

I was getting extremely irritated because I felt like, no matter how hard I was working, nothing was getting done. That’s when my writing coach pointed out that I needed to write down every, single, little step in order to truly feel like I was getting stuff done.

The reason I wasn’t feeling accomplished was because the progress reports I was doing weren’t detailed enough, so nothing was getting checked off.

For example, I had on my list “finish novel” at one point. But that’s all I had written down, and because my novel wasn’t finished yet, it felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. But when I wrote down all the steps it takes me to get to a finished novel (plot/character sheets, plot outline, write chapter 1, write chapter 2, etc), I started to see that I was actually getting something done.

Do you keep a weekly progress report? How does it help you?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura Lee Bloor July 24, 2009 at 11:15 am

I love this idea — I think it’s something that will help me a lot. I too often feel like I’m not getting anything done, when in reality, I’m sure I’m getting quite a bit accomplished.

I’ve said before too: Remember not to brush off all the things during the day you take for granted. For example, this week at work has just been really, really hectic and I’ve had to stay late to finish projects almost every night. By the time I get home, I have time to make a healthy dinner, clean-up and then maybe an hour of down-time to savor before it’s time to go to bed and do it all over again.

So even though I’m definitely not getting much accomplished on my goals, I have remind myself that I’m giving 100% at my job, still eating healthy, keeping the home tidy, spending time with Mr. Man, and getting proper sleep. Ah, it already looks like a lot!

2 The Procrastinating Writer July 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm

@Laura Lee Bloor Wow! It sounds like you’re getting a lot accomplished to me!

3 Natalia Maldonado July 29, 2009 at 10:14 am

This is a great idea, and such great timing for me. I’ve been having to do a lot of those “little” things lately that don’t feel like they’re adding up to a lot yet. Researching for articles I’m working on, sending out proposals to clients, going to networking events. These aren’t the kinds of things we get instant gratification from, but writing them down reminds me that I have in fact been working even though the results aren’t showing in an obvious way. Thanks for a great post!

4 The Procrastinating Writer July 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

@Natalia Maldonado You’re welcome! A weekly progress report has literally changed the way I look at the work I get done. I used to berate myself all the time for not getting anything accomplished, but once I started writing everything down–even the small steps–I’ve realized that I’m a lot more accomplished than I give myself credit for.

5 Sirivimol September 19, 2009 at 9:09 am

I like your idea. That’s very useful for me.

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