What is My Desk?
My Desk is a productivity system designed to help you plan, organise, and complete your work every week. It consists of six different parts and fits on a single page.
The My Desk template is a spreadsheet, making it easy for you to print out or complete online. You can also use tools like Trello and Notion by copying the section headings and following the instructions in this guide.
My Desk is designed to be used weekly. You can use it in several different ways to support you at work.:
- Use it by yourself to better manage your time at work
- Share it with team members to help communicate what you are working on
- Share it with your manager to improve conversations about workload, priorities, and any help you need.
The most important thing to remember about My Desk is that it is a template. Feel free to add or remove sections to create a version that best fits your job.
My Desk Section 1 – Last Week’s Highlights
The first section in My Desk is Last Week’s Highlights.
This is where you record big and small wins and acknowledge your progress. If you complete it every week, you will create a bank of achievements that you can return to throughout the year.
Recording progress is beneficial for performance reviews, applications for promotion, moving jobs, or simply when you need to remind yourself how far you have come!
Section 2 – Planned This Week
The second section in My Desk is Planned This Week, which is the perfect place to record the most important work you must complete in the week ahead.
This allows you to get out of your inbox, to-list, and calendar to identify your priorities for the coming days. It means you are more likely to spend your time on the work that adds the most value and finish the week with a sense of accomplishment. Use this section with your manager to ensure you agree on the week’s priorities.
Section 3 – Week Highlights
Track your progress in the Week Highlights section to keep you motivated throughout the week.
These could be planned tasks that you have completed or some other unexpected win.
(Hint: If your highlights are often different from what you have planned to achieve, it’s worth exploring why that happens.)
You can use the contents of this section to populate Section 1 – Last Week’s Highlights – in the following week.
Section 4 – Issues and Risks
The Issues and Risks section in My Desk reminds you to identify anything that may prevent you from achieving your goals.
Issues are things preventing you from completing the work you had planned for the week. Risks could impact your work, but they haven’t happened yet.
When you proactively think about issues and risks, you are more likely to take steps to manage them and stay on track for the week.
This is a great section to discuss with your manager how they can help you reduce or eliminate issues and risks.
Section 5 – Activity List
The activity list is a short list of activities pulled from your to-do list, calendar, project plans and anywhere else you track your work.
These are the activities that you intend to work on this week. Separating these items from future work, items on hold, “might-dos”, and “should-dos” allows you to focus on what matters and reduce overwhelm.
Some/all of these activities should be linked to the key items listed in “Planned This Week”.
If actions are left unfinished at the end of the week, check whether they are still a priority instead of automatically bringing them to the following week.
Section 6 – Discuss with Manager
The last section in the My Desk template is Discuss with Manager.
Record any work-related or personal issues you need your manager to support you with. This can be used as a reference for one-to-one meetings and to ensure nothing slips through the cracks from week to week.
When you have spoken about the item, mark it as discussed. Do not mark it as complete until all steps by you and your manager have been taken.
Reflecting with the My Desk Productivity System
Research has shown that daily and weekly reflection improves productivity at work. It allows you to reflect on what you have done (or haven’t done) and decide what you can do to improve your work.
Take 10-15 minutes to review and reflect on My Desk at the end of your week.
- What work did you complete?
- What did you procrastinate on?
- What went as planned?
- What was unexpected?
- What can you do to start the next week well?
If you want to take this a step further, set time aside every three months to review past My Desk sheets.
Download your copy of the My Desk Productivity System here.