Metrics – Adding Tracking Data

In Using Metrics To Track Your Progress we discussed creating a new Metrics entry.  For a new metric to be useful we need to show progress and for that we need to add Tracking Data.  For demonstration purposes we’ll continue using the weight tracking metric.

There are two ways to add Tracking Data to your metric:

Method 1: If you already have the metric’s information form open, go the Tracking tab, click anywhere in the Tracking Values grid area, then press your keyboard’s Insert key.  The Metric Tracking Entry form should appear to help you enter the tracking data. The date is defaulted to Today’s date.

You can add as many entries as you want using this method.

Method 2: Shortcut

If you are working from the Metrics tab in the main Achieve Planner form…

Step 1: Go to the Metrics tab (Go -> Metrics menu item)

Step 2: Click once, anywhere within the row of the metric to which you want to add tracking data

Step 3: Use the Actions -> Add Tracking Entry menu item.

The same Metric Tracking Entry dialog will appear so you can enter the tracking data.

This method is great when you just want to quickly make an entry and don’t want to view all the details of the metric.

Tracking Entry Information

The tracking entry for a metric consists of the following fields…

Value: The current value (in this example weight in pounds) that you want to enter

Target: The expected or target value for the metric at this point in time… we’ll come back to this in the next article. For now, leave it blank.

Date: The date the value was measured, whether it’s today’s date or a previous date.

Type (pull-down menu): Choices are “Cumulative”, “New Total”, or “Instance”.  We’ll explore “Instance” and “Cumulative” in future articles. For now choose “New Total”.

The type usually matches the Metric’s overall type and you usually don’t have to change it.

Our completed form now looks like this:

Click OK to add the tracking entry to the metric, which you can see in the Tracking tab of the Metric’s Information Form:

If you’ve been tracking your weight some other way (like Post-It notes or your previous dayplanner), the Achieve Planner Metrics feature can reduce your paper load, simplify your life, and make it easy to have all your information at your fingertips for weight tracking.

Adding Tracking Entries From The Metric Reminder Screen

Remember that if you set a metric tracking reminder it will only occur once each day, at the time you’ve set.  That reminder will look the same as reminders used for appointments/events:

If you have more than one reminder due at the same time, they will all appear in the window.

To enter a tracking entry for the metric from the Reminder Window, just dismiss the reminder. Achieve Planner will ask you if you want to add a tracking entry for the metric. Select Yes to add a tracking entry, No to skip it.

NOTE: Once you’ve added one or more tracking entries, you may see a graph on the main Metrics tab, below the rows of entries. We’ll discuss that graph and the ways it can be changed in a future article.

Snooze: just like your bedside alarm clock, you can highlight a particular reminder, choose a time from the drop down list, then click Snooze and the reminder will disappear for that length of time. Each reminder in the list can have a different snooze time.  Or you can highlight one or more reminders and set the same snooze time for all highlighted.

Mini-Break: clicking this button will automatically set the reminder to re-appear in 10 minutes – no additional time setting is needed.  (For more information on mini-breaks and their benefits see the Get More Done In Less Time ebook and course.)

If you’re using AP Metrics to track your weight or any other important things, how has it benefitted you?  We invite you to add your comments below.

Using Metrics To Track Your Progress

There’s an old saying that “what gets measured gets done.” But all too often we rely on just our gut or intuition to asses our progress on our projects or goals.

Trusting that we will somehow have an inherent awareness of our progress might work for very simple jobs, like painting a room where we can easily see the status of the four walls around us, but this strategy can quickly fall apart if we use it for larger projects or goals that take time to complete.

A metric is a measurement of some kind that allows you to track your progress over time. For example, think of the odometer in your car which tells you how many miles you’ve traveled in a trip. That is one simple metric that almost everyone is familiar with.

Metrics are useful because they help you see your progress over time, which can be motivating, and they help you see when you are getting off-track so you can make a course correction.

Another good example of a metric is keeping track of your weight. Maybe you want to see the effects of a new diet or weight loss program, maybe you want to add a few extra pounds of muscle down at the gym, or maybe you just want to maintain and stay at your current weight.

It’s actually quite difficult to notice subtle weight gains or losses as they are happening if you don’t weigh yourself on a regular basis. Over the years, you can easily gain 10 or 20 pounds without even noticing. Even if you weigh yourself regularly, it’s difficult to see the fluctuations and overall patterns if you just keep track of it in your head.

Achieve Planner offers a simple but very useful Metrics tracking feature that makes it simple to keep track of what’s important to you.

You can access it using the Metrics tab (available from the Go menu). When you open the tab for the first time, you’ll see a blank slate, waiting for you to tell Achieve Planner what you want to track.

Let’s keep using the weight example to explore the Achieve Planner Metrics feature.

Creating a Metric

To add a new metric, press the Insert key or use the Insert menu.

By default, the following columns are displayed:

  • Active – Whether the metric is active or inactive
  • Priority – Allows you to prioritize and order metrics
  • Title – Title for the metric
  • Category – Category of the metric useful for filtering & grouping
  • Question – The question that you’ll ask yourself to enter the new metric value. For example, “How much do I weigh today?”
  • Target – The target value that you want to reach (for example, the weight that you want to reach)
  • Last Value – The last value that you entered for the metric
  • Status – The status of the metric (for example, if it’s overdue)

Personalizing Your Metric

Now that you’ve created a metric, it’s time to personalize it to help you track your weight.

Double-click anywhere on the new metric row to open up the Metric Information Form, which lets you customize your Metric in detail.

First, give the Metric a descriptive name, like “My Weight.”  Skip the Owner field for now and move on to the Category field, where you can choose to type in a Category name. This helps you group or filter related metrics together. For this example, a good category name might be “Health” or “Weight Tracking” if you want to be more specific.

Using a more specific category might be useful if you want to keep a handle on other metrics related to your weight tracking experience, like “minutes spent riding the bike.”

The next field is Recurrence, and to edit this field you will have to click on the Set Recurrence button beside the grayed out text box.  This will pop up a screen that allows you to control how often you want to track this Metric, with daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly options.

If you want, you can also choose a time range that begins and ends the tracking period for the Metric.  Most people tracking their weight would do so on a daily or weekly basis, so choose one of those options and then click the OK button.

After setting the recurrence pattern for the metric, you have to decide whether you want Achieve Planner to remind you about tracking the Metric or not.

Checking the Has Reminder checkbox will let you schedule a daily reminder at a specific time.

The remaining two fields on the screen, Description and Reason allow you to describe the metric in more detail and specify why you want to keep track of this particular Metric.

Tracking Data For Your Metric

The Tracking tab helps you specify the type of metric that you are tracking and what kind of tracking information you want to maintain.

We’ll go over this tab in more detail in another article, but for now, we are going to focus on the Type, Question and Units.

From the Type combo, we are going to select Total because we want to track our total weight (current weight) over time.

Next is the Question, where you can type a question that the Metric will ask you when it’s time to input data.  Let’s go with “What is my weight today?”

Next, we’ll define the Units, which simply serve as a reminder of the units of measurement you are tracking. You can use Pounds, Kg or anything else you like.

Once you are finished, click the Save and Close button.  You should now be back at the Metrics tab, with your new Metric showing on the screen.

So far, we’ve only set up the Metric so that we can start to keep track of it. In future articles, you’ll learn how to enter tracking data, how to set target values you want to reach and how to use other types of metrics.

GMD Tutorial – How To Capture New Projects And Tasks

Achieve Planner provides a convenient way to help you capture new tasks and ideas that pop into your head while you are working on something else.

The Quick Task Entry feature provides a simple entry box where you can capture new projects, tasks and ideas for later processing.

The Quick Task Entry form is available by right-clicking on the Achieve Planner icon in the system tray area and selecting the command from the menu.

Notification menu

You can also use the Quick Task Entry HotKey defined in the general tab of the Options dialog (Tools  ->Options menu item.) This HotKey is available even while working on other applications. The default HotKey is Alt+Win+T key combination.

The following Quick Task Entry dialog appears when you use the HotKey or notify icon context menu.

Quick Task Entry dialog

This tutorial video walks you through the quick task entry process.

Quick Task Entry video cover

Click Here to View the Tutorial

How To Enter Multiple Tasks At Once

If you check the Enter multiple tasks… checkbox, then you can enter multiple tasks (one per line) and use indentation (spaces) to create subtasks at any level.

For example, if you enter the following tasks (replace (Space) with an actual space character):

Task # 1

(Space)(Space)Task # 2

(Space)(Space)Task # 3

Task #2 and Task # 3 will be children of Task # 1.

By default, Achieve Planner inserts the new tasks into a project called “<New Tasks>” (which by default is under the <Inbox> project.) You can also directly specify the parent for the new tasks using the Project button.

The default mode is to enter the task details into the box and then process them later, but if you already know the project where the new task belongs, you can specify it here as well.

This entry box doesn’t distinguish between projects and tasks, but you can make that distinction later during the processing step.

Check the Activate Achieve Planner… box if you want to activate the main Achieve Planner window when you add the tasks. Leave it unchecked if you want to return to the application you were working on after you add the tasks.

How To Add Notes To Tasks When Using Quick Task Entry

You can add notes to the new tasks by using ## to separate the task name from the note text.

For example,

Task 1.1##These are the notes that will be associated with the task.

Note: The Quick Task Entry HotKey can only be associated with a single Achieve Planner main window. If you have multiple files open simultaneously, the HotKey will only work for one of them. If you find that the HotKey is not working once you close all other Achieve Planner windows, invoke the Quick Task Entry from the system tray icon context menu to “rehook” the hot key.

GMD Tutorial – Zooming In On The Outline

If you want to be able to look at several sub-projects and all their tasks at the same time while you do your planning, then the Outline tab is the best place to do that.

You can use the “zooming” feature (also called hoisting in Outlining applications) to zoom-in on a specific project and only look at it’s sub-projects and their tasks together in one place.

For example, if you only want to see projects in the Work result area, you can use zooming to only view this particular branch of the outline.

  1. Select the row of the outline where you want to zoom in by clicking on the row header. This row will be the new root of the hierarchy after you zoom in. In this case, select the Work result area row
  2. Select the Outline->Zoom In command.

The outline should now be zoomed in on the Work result area, showing only its children. You can tell when the outline is zoomed because the caption of the outline grid displays the root of the zoom hierarchy.

Zoom: Work (Result Area)

If you want to see more of the hierarchy, you can use the Outline->Zoom Out and Outline->Clear Zoom commands.

  • Zoom Out – This command zooms out by one increment to the parent of the current zoom root
  • Clear Zoom This command clears the zoom completely and returns the outline to its normal state

To continue:

  1. Select the Outline->Clear Zoom command.

The normal outline should now be displayed once again.

You can zoom to a specific item in the Outline using the Outline -> Zoom to Item… command. This command displays a dialog box that lets you select the item that you want to use as the new zoom root in the Outline and is a handy way to switch from one zoom root to another.

GMD Tutorial – Converting Between Sub-Projects And Tasks

This tutorial shows you how to convert between sub-projects and tasks.

Converting projects/tasksClick Here to View the Tutorial

To convert a Task into a Project (in either the Outline or Tasks tabs):

  1. Select the Task(s) that you want to convert
  2. Use the Actions -> Convert into Project menu item to convert the task(s) into project(s)

NOTE: When you convert a task into a project, it will automatically become a sub-project of whatever project (or result area) the task was part of.

To convert a Project into a Task (in either the Outline or Projects tabs):

  1. Select the Project(s) that you want to convert
  2. Use the Actions -> Convert into Task menu item to convert the project(s) into task(s)

NOTE: When you convert a sub-project into a task, it will automatically become a task of it’s parent project. Any sub-projects (or tasks) of the project being converted will also become sub-tasks of the converted task.

GMD Tutorial – Bookmarking Using Next Action Reminders

This tutorial shows you how to use bookmarking to help you remember where you left off when you complete a project block and start working on something else.

Next Action Reminders TutorialClick Here to View the Tutorial

When you have done some work on a task and are ready to move on to something else without fully completing the task, you can use the
Actions -> Record Work/Expenses command to help you remember where you left off.

  1. Navigate to the Tasks tab and select a task for which you want to record some work
  2. Select the Actions->Record Work/Expenses command. This will bring up the Work/Expense Record dialog.
  3. Dialog

  4. Optionally enter how much time you spent on the task in the “Effort Spent” box. This will automatically reduce the effort left by that amount. If the Effort Left is a different amount, you can adjust it as needed.
  5. Optionally, enter the bookmark reminder task in the “Follow up action” box.
  6. Press the Add button.

The Work/Expense Record dialog provides the following fields:

  • Name – Name of the project/task for which you are recording work
  • Expected effort – Your original estimate of the amount of effort it would take to complete the task
  • Effort to Date – This is the “actual effort” for the task so far
  • Effort Spent – Enter the amount of work that you want to record for this task (for example: 30m, 2h)
  • Effort Left – Enter your estimate of the amount of work that is still needed to complete the task
  • Expected cost – Your original estimate of the cost of the task
  • Cost to Date – This is the “actual cost” for the task so far
  • Additional Cost – Enter the cost you want to add for this task (or leave blank)
  • Follow up action – Allows you to add a “next action reminder task” as a child of the current task to serve as a bookmark or reminder of where you left off

In the example above, after entering the above information, the task list for this project would contain:

Example

Notice that the “Effort Left” field has been reduced from 30 min to 20 min because this is the amount entered into the Effort Left box of the dialog.

In addition, a new child task called “Left at chapter 5” was added to the “Come up with chapter titles” task. This is a next action reminder or bookmark task because its effort values are both set to 0h.

This tells Achieve Planner that it is not an actual task, but just a reminder of where you left off and what you need to do next when you continue working on the “Come up with chapter titles” task.