👋 I’m Nathan

Twenty-second Postmortem

Take some time to document what happened.

With lots to do and not enough time to do everything, it can seem impossible to document progress or keep track of how things might have gone. Some items seem small, so we just complete them and move on. It can, however, be incredibly valuable and sometimes necessary to remember what actually happened, when, and maybe why a decision was made.

I have a terrible memory, so I use a to-do list app to keep track of what I need to do. This past year I’ve tried to not just use my to-do list to keep track of what’s left to do, but also to document what’s been done with more detail than I did before. If you use a calendar, a notes app, or a sheet of paper you can do the same thing.

Before marking something as complete, take 20 seconds to write down what went right, what went wrong, why, and then move on. Those 20 seconds can end up being super valuable down the road. It is also good practice to be regularly reflective about progress. I just input my thoughts into the “note” field for the to-do item before checking it off. I like this because the documentation is attached to the original work item.

Here’s an example implemented in a few apps:

Screenshots of four different apps showing my notes attached to a task

I recommend trying this or something similar for a while. It can be really nice to look back and remind yourself why something worked out differently than originally planned, who you talked to about a topic before marking it done, or just to see that everything did indeed work out as expected.

Do you have any tricks to keep document progress?
Any recommendations for me?

🏁