Daniel Prindii | Why it’s important to document your work

Why it’s important to document your work

How to document your work and collaborate with your colleagues.

We are flooded with data every day. Blogs, Medium articles, social media platforms, notifications (how many red dots do you have on your phone currently?), work calls, shopping lists, everything is information. And we need to process it, understand it, and archive it, or forget it.

The problem is that it is too much. We get pulled left and right, by colleagues, lists, and FOMO. And the whole process of zooming in and out of a task, from a piece of information, costs us energy and mental capacity.
We start to forget things, become less efficient, and have the feeling that the day has passed and that we did not accomplish most of the things we planned.

How to solve it?

To solve this problem, we need to tackle 3 elements:

  • the human element– i.e., our capacity to process information, how strong we are in organizing it;

  • the environmental element processes and framework the organization or the team has in place, how the collaboration is happening, and what expectations are set by the company culture;

  • the framework element: how we structure our tasks, knowledge bases, and how we control the flow of information.

What we can manage easily, indifferent to the job, is the framework element.

In my role as Head of Community for a staffing startup, I created a framework for documenting my day-to-day work, that can be scaled, used across departments, and, also, give you an outline for the quarterly company meeting.

We’ll start from the small, atomic task and build on it, in a way that can be used in different scenarios.

Capturing the tasks

It all starts with a task on a piece of paper or a project management tool. And then another, and another. In no time, you have at least 6 tasks that all appear to be urgent, written in at least 3 places.

To get you started on working on them, and eliminate the fear of missing something, you need to decide a process on how you are capturing tasks and stick to it.
It can be a list on a project management tool (like JIRA, Asana, Coda, or Notion) or a written list in a notebook.

My recommendation is to start with pen and paper because it is easy to use, accessible, and helps you in processing the information.
Thereafter, you can transfer the list to a digital tool. And in the process of transferring them, you can prioritize them.

The Eisenhower Matrix helps you divide your tasks into four categories: the urgent tasks, and you will do them first, the ones you’ll schedule for later, the tasks you’ll delegate, and the tasks you’ll delete.

Keeping track of tasks

Now, that you organized your activities, you’ll start to finish them, and you’re done, right? Not really.

After an activity is completed, we don’t forget about them in the Done column. We can use them to keep track of our process on projects, and also to discover, what tasks appear outside the project scope.

Start by documenting your daily tasks in a way that makes sense for you: keep them in a Note, a document, or a bulleted list on Slack. (You can have an end-of-day wrap-up of your department’s channel). Add all the activities that you had done on that day.

The next step is to decide what goes on the monthly list. Here you should add information related to your goals and projects, that show progress. Reading your emails and answering them should not be included.

The final layer, the quarterly one, should evidentiate the project progress, in broad strokes. In most cases, this layer will be included in a company updates presentation, or all-hands meeting, where you need to transmit the most important realizations in a short amount of time.

Why is it essential to document your work?

Having a history of what you had worked on, can help you in the long run.

You can discover the recurring tasks that are taking a lot of time and can find a solution. For example, you can add a new colleague to your team or find a better way to collaborate with other departments, or maybe you can automate a part of them.

One activity for a community manager that takes time and energy is onboarding members. You can automate a part of it with tools like Campfire, Talkbase or Slack/Discord bots. Moreover, it’s critical to still keep a personal, human touch to it, by reaching out to the new members after one or two days, or in a DM.

You have a history of your work and use it to update your portfolio, write an article about a project, or make an update on social media.

Keep your team and colleagues in the loop. In an async, remote, work setup, you can use your tasks list to update your team, in an easy and transparent way. This can help you eliminate those update meetings where everyone is reading information that could be found in a task manager.

Be in sync with your direct reports. As a manager or team lead, having a central place to track the work can save you a few updates meetings and the whole back-and-forth about work progress. Besides, having everyone’s tasks transparently in one place helps with the team’s connections, equality, and trust.

To get you started on this new process, the companion Coda doc will give an editable database that can be used right away.

Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

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Daniel Prindii

Community Designer. Marketing Strategist.

Art Historian. Photographer.

Cluj, Romania/ Vicenza, Italy

danielprindii [at] pm.me

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© Daniel Prindii