The Quick Weekly Activity That Helps You Get Ahead

On the worst kinds of weeks—when we’re in a bad mood, when a co-worker’s being especially loud and distracting, when we’re dealing with one million different fires—it can feel like we’ve accomplished nothing. We go home on Friday feeling defeated, like we wasted our time on unimportant issues while our to-do list kept growing.

The thing is—and you probably know this—you probably did more than you think. Those eight hours didn’t just fly by while you sat twiddling your thumbs. Even if you don’t have a new shiny project to show off, the skills you’re picking up, the challenges you’re facing, and the little efforts you’re making every day are ultimately moving you closer and closer to success.

This is exactly why we frequently recommend you track your accomplishments on a regular basis, whether it’s in a journal, on a spreadsheet, or (shameless plug) with this handy worksheet we made for you!

Why is this quick activity so life-changing? For one, it makes you feel good. If you can see on paper everything you did in a given week, you won’t get that “I’m useless” feeling in the pit of your stomach. And, even on the weeks that truly are slow, you can look back at this and see that you’ve actually achieved a lot recently (and if you haven’t, it’s a good time to question if the position’s still the right fit for you).

Needless to say, it’s motivating—the more accomplishments you rack up, the more you’ll want to add to the list.

Not to mention, having written (or, rather, typed) proof of all the things you’ve completed in your role only makes it easier for you to state your case for a raise or promotion in your yearly performance review.

So let me explain how this works. First, download your own copy of the worksheet by clicking File > Download as > whatever file type you’d like. Then:

  • Copy and paste the weekly template onto a new page (by clicking Insert > Page break)
  • Fill in the date(s)
  • Jot down projects you finished (as well as how long they took and why they’re important), challenges or problems you solved, great feedback you received from your clients, your boss, and your co-workers, and one thing you’re really proud of.
  • Set one small goal for next week to make sure you’re sticking to your schedule
  • Repeat weekly!

Realistically, this should only take you 10-15 minutes to fill out every week. And, you can do it as a starting-off-the-week-on-a-good-note Monday routine, or as a I-don’t-want-to-do-my-work-so-I’ll-do-this-instead Friday activity. Either way you can’t go wrong!

This habit won’t just get you ahead—it’ll keep you from falling behind. If you see you’re accomplishing less and less every week, or taking too long on projects, you’ll know you need to pick up the pace before your boss notices your lack of productivity. Or, if you’re struggling to think of accomplishments, especially ones that make you truly proud, it’s a good sign that it’s time to evaluate your current role and whether it’s fulfilling enough for you.

This quick exercise only has upsides—so get started today!

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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