jobs to be done and jobs simply done

Jobs to be done, and jobs that are simply done

I’m the kind of person who needs lots of small wins to keep me afloat. It doesn’t matter how small, but they need to be consistent. It’s the glass half full affliction, and sometimes I need to be reminded of just how full it really is.

A couple of weeks ago I was sat at my desk feeling a little down on Nusii’s progress (Nusii is my proposal software service for creative consultants). I just wasn’t feeling the positive vibes that come with building a business. But quite by chance my day was perked up by doing one simple thing, writing stuff down.

How many lists can a man have?

At Nusii we’ve gone through every kind of todo list you can imagine. We’ve ordered by features, bugs, requests, feedback, design, UI, Dev…you name it. The one method that actually seems to be working is our “One list to rule them all” Cute, eh?. We have this setup in trello and every time we finish a task it gets dragged into the “done” column which is then ordered by weeks. Nothing out of the ordinary…This works fantastically well for all those items that need to be done, but it wasn’t winning any prizes for inspiration when it came to “What have we actually done?”

The business journal and failure thereof…

In the past I’d tried different ways of tracking my personal and business progress. One of those failed attempts came in the form of a a business journal. I think I first heard about business journals through Brennan Dunn. The problem with a journal is the need for consistency, something I lack in abundance. But I did love the idea.

Now I’ve never kept a diary, but the basic theory is the same for both a personal and business diary or journal. At the end of each work day you write what went well, what went badly, how you felt about the day and anything of note. I liked this approach because it meant I could look back over the weeks, months and years to see how I had advanced. Of course the theory was all there, I just flaked out after a few days.

If this is something you think you might have more stamina with there are plenty of apps out there, although there do seem to be a couple that take the lion’s share of the market. I tried Journal, a Chrome extension that also has a handy Android app. This did a pretty decent job, but the fact that the main app was a Chrome extension made it a bit fiddly. If you’re on iOS you can try Day One, the king of journalling apps.

Achievement as a motivator

So back to my crappy Monday.

I was sinking into a “Nusii’s going nowhere fast” cycle but managed to catch myself in time. I jumped on Skype and asked my co-founder Michael when he’d started working full time on Nusii…The answer came back as December. I started looking through everything we’d achieved from then until the end of January…And boy was I surprised, in that short time we’d:

  1. Launched Nusii’s new pricing structures
  2. Rebuilt and deployed the Nusii editor
  3. Launched Weekly Design Jobs
  4. Launched our Freelance Starter Giveaway (which brought us over 500 new subscribers)
  5. Started The Nusii Room (our private community for Nusii customers)
  6. Hit our two initial milestones of $1k MRR and 50 paying customers
  7. Released the ability to minimise proposals sections
  8. Interviewed Ilise Benun for our blog
  9. Made a couple of very interesting connections
  10. Started to outsource areas of Nusii

There were probably other achievements I’d forgotten to include, but I can tell you that I suddenly felt a lot better about my day. I was pumped to keep doing more of the same and ensure that I could have the same rush at the end of every month (which reminds me…).

So that day we declared a new law at Nusii HQ. On the first of every month we’d update our Achievements Google Doc and allow ourselves a few minutes of satisfaction. After all, everything we’re doing to build Nusii is completely made up. Any results come from a lot a reading and a lot more doing. (no first time founder has a clue what they’re doing). Our done board on Trello just didn’t feed my creative needs, it felt way too “devvy”.

So while my previous attempts at tracking successes had failed I feel I’ve finally found a nice, simple solution. And as there are two of us at Nusii, I know we’ll be more likely to keep our achievements document updated. This in turn will help me to keep pushing when things look bleak and get excited about all we’ve achieved when I look back over the months and years.

I’d be interested to see if you keep track of their work/life progress? Do you like to, or feel the need to look back at past accomplishments?

I didn’t think I did, turns out I was wrong.

Good luck

photo credit: Half what? via photopin (license)


  1. Recently (2015) I started writing down what I did every week as part of my weekly review. Then at the end of the month I’d summarize those into a list of monthly accomplishments.

    Even weeks when I felt like I accomplished nothing, looking back I actually did a lot or I started some plans that paid off in later weeks.

    This is nothing more than a plain text file with bulleted lists and headers for each week.

    • nathan

      Hey Eric.

      I think a simple text doc with a list is all you need to recap. I just wish I’d started sooner!

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