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Why You Need A Planned Activity Tracking Sheet (PATS)

Written by Tayo Solagbade

Topics: Career Development

Many busy executives and managers sometimes struggle to keep abreast of the myriad of tasks they need to attend to.

Their demanding schedules are often responsible for this problem.

Unfortunately, not everyone can have (or afford) a personal assistant. And even for those who have, sometimes the PA may be unavailable, or worse, not at her best.

In this article, I use examples from my time in paid employment (see full details in my 11 page PDF resume -click here) , to explain how being able to use a PATS, can help you overcome the above limitations, to excel at work perpetually.

Background: Identifying My PATS As The Key To My Workplace Success

Before 2002, I worked as a high performing manager in a large corporate multinational.

Within 6 years of joining the company, I had achieved rapid career advancement ahead of others older in the company, and on the job, than I was.

On one occasion, I had a senior colleague from a different department make the following (scary) rhetorical statement to me in what sounded like a menacing voice:

“Solagbade, you want to do in 3 years what some people did in 5 years huh?”

That happened in 1997.

By 2001, I’d recorded other milestone achievements.

Most notably I’d gotten myself known across the company, for literally automating all the manual report preparation processes in my department (brewing/production), using my Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets macro programming skills.

[NB: Today I develop custom MS Excel-VB driven spreadsheet software for high profile clients, and for sale from my website.]

Following that, I got sent on a series of secondments in acting capacity to higher management positions. In each instance I did not disappoint.

Over time I was promoted, then later nominated for multiple international training courses, and also assigned to act in an even greater decision making position as departmental head.

The irony was that I had to perform this senior management acting role in the same department I’d just been promoted out of, three months earlier!

That required leading my former senior colleagues effectively, if I wanted to succeed.

It was tough, but I once again applied myself diligently, and pulled it off.

A few weeks later that year (in 2001), another senior colleague ran into me on the company grounds and (after exchanging pleasantries) asked:

“Solagbade, what is your secret?”

I told him I had none, and that all I tried to do each day was to ensure I NEVER left undone, anything I knew could be done.

That way, I was able to keep my list of tasks at any point in time, within manageable limits. And as a result, I never got overwhelmed by the work I had to do in any position I occupied.

How My PATS Helped Me Achieve Superior Results

I know this may sound rather simplistic, but looking back, I realised that my use of a PATS was actually the key to my success as an employee.

Funny enough, the sheet had no special features. Just 7 labelled columns (setup in a table printed out from an MS Excel template I created) as follows:

1. Serial Number : designated as “SN” to save space. In this column, I assigned a number in ascending format to every activity I entered into the table.

2. Description of Activity/Task:
Here I wrote, using abbreviations, key details of the outcome I wished to achieve by carrying out the task.

3. Date: The date on which the task or activity was entered on the PATS.

4. Who: Initials of individuals or names of groups I would need to liase with (or chase) to make the activity happen to completion.

5. When: The desired target date for completion of the task, or realisation of the target outcome.

6. Done (Yes/No): I would insert a “Yes” (or check mark) if the task had been completed by the start of a new week. Otherwise it would be a “No”.

In other words, each week I opened a fresh sheet, and checked off all completed tasks on the outgone week’s sheet.

Then I copied any outstanding ones left on the past week’s sheet, to the new one, so I could continue tracking them.

As the week progressed, I would add any new tasks that came up as a result of agreements reached at meetings, requests from others, or plans I had.

7. Comment(s): Here I would make notes to guide my implementation of each task, or to record notable points relevant to the results achieved.

The above format helped me keep my mind uncluttered. As a result I was often able to think faster and act smarter while at work. This inspite of the fact that I often started the day earlier (and closed much later) than most of the others I had to work with.

Anytime an issue arose that could not be dealt with instantly, and which therefore needed following up, I’d simply write it on a new serially numbered line on my PATS.

Then as the day/week progressed, I would run through the entries I’d made and make needed checks, visits, phonecalls or emails to get updates and/or try progressing them where possible.

This instrument was responsible for making me appear to other employees as if I had a super memory: I never seemed to forget to do anything that was assigned to me.

And if I was in a group I used the PATS to the group’s benefit. It was therefore no surprise that people came to see me as someone who could be trusted to get things done.

As a result I often got drafted (sometimes coerced) to join company paperwork computerisation project teams, long service awards organising committees, management staff association executives etc.

In most of these groups it was no accident that I had to often had to play the role of “Secretary” :-)

Final Words

In the long run it all paid off for me, because I got to rub shoulders (and minds), a lot, with senior decision makers as a result of my exposure to the various groups and meetings.

What I learnt from those high profile interactions would equip me to later excel as career advancement opportunities came my way.

Without the use of my PATS I would never have impressed enough to earn those opportunities.

More importantly, I would not have been able to excel in doing those jobs like I did, if I had not used my PATS.

On a final note I will say that even today, I would prefer the paper version to the smartphone or PC based equivalents that may exist.

To save paper however, I often used the blank side of waste paper from printers from offices.

Alternatively, you can buy and use ruled notebooks.

Using a tool like the handwritten PATS I’ve described above, can help you excel as an employee.

Why not give it a try and see?

[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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Tayo K. Solagbade*
Performance Improvement Specialist & Multipreneur
*Best Practice Farm Business Support Specialist
& Founder of the MS Excel Heaven Visual Basic Automation Club & Competition(www.excelheaven.biz)

 

 

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