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.

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