After a rather interesting project reaching its blessed end, I decided to put up a log - which should I thought about it before, I would have done since the begining of the project. In this log I carefully noted each memo, each relevant e-mail and each meeting where notes were taken. In the systematizing of the information several things became quite evident, things you don't often notice - or not as clearly - when you are in the middle of the action. The lags in replies, or even the lack of replies but rather the ranting and havoc wrecking some decide to implement when reason is no longer on their side (or the illusion of it). Once I finished (it took me a while going through notes and e-mails to sort out the historic log of all the activities involved with the end result of the project), realisation hit me that this would actually be a great thing to do with all your projects and all those things in your personal and professional life where you'd like to keep a record of what has been done and maybe what's still to be done. Be it a party you are planning, or all the preparations before a vacation, a personal project you are working on, track on the medication you are taking, or someone should be taking or also work related stuff. Keeping an activity log can be a very useful way to keep a clear track of what's being done.
I made my activity log on Excel - I found it easier to handle, but you can pick any other way, be it Word, Project, a notebook, a blackboard, Internet tools, you name it. Also you can change, add and take from the columns or adjust the spaces for the information the way it suits your needs better. In this example I picked an activity: Preparing Halloween Celebration (maybe I should have picked something else, but nothing else came to mind). For purposes of making it clear, I prepared four columns: one with the date when the activity starts, a description of the activity, what was the activity (meeting, e-mail, letter, document, note, memo, phone call, etc), and when it ended. Other columns can be added, such as "Next Step" or "Responsible", "Task Manager", "Percentage of Completition"... it all depends on what's important to you and what you work better with.
If you keep a log like this for each activity that you feel needs to have a follow up, or you'd like to keep a track on, first you need discipline, and then you also need to be clear as what you want to keep your eye on. Do you want to keep an eye on the time it takes you or your team to get something done. Do you want to keep an eye on the people doing it, and check how's everybody working in the team. Do you want to keep a track on the "paper track" or what's the most used mean in getting a project done. Do you want to keep a track on the nature of the activities and how many of them actually add to the project and how many are just a waste of time.
A log like this could also be of use in your daily life if you make an effort to write down quickly what do you do in your day, how much time you spend doing it, what it takes you to do it, and whether you finish the task or not. In this case this log can help you see clearly how do you use your time, and eventually help you plan better your day to make sure you only concentrate on the things that are really important and thus make the best of your day.
So think about it, and maybe you'd like to give this "logging" a try out.