How To Use a Task Tracker in Excel in 5 Simple Steps

Updated July 24, 2023

Microsoft Excel allows users to create a list of tasks that they can use to track their progress. You can use these types of lists to keep you or your team on track while completing different projects. Learning how to use a task tracker in Excel can improve your overall productivity and improve your professional output.

In this article, we discuss some of the main benefits of using Excel to track your tasks, explain how to use a task tracker in Excel and provide multiple task tracking templates in Excel.

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Benefits of using an Excel-based task tracker

Here are some reasons to use an Excel task tracker:

  • It's a popular software choice. Excel is a relatively common software application for spreadsheets, tables, graphs and other office tasks. If you're new to the software, there are many resources online that can help you get started, and a lot of office-based employees have familiarity with it as well.

  • It's highly customizable. Using Excel gives you access to multiple customization options, including different colors and filters. This allows you to create a task tracker that suits your particular needs and preferences.

  • It has multiple reporting capabilities. Besides helping you track your tasks and their completion status, Excel can also help you create reports that analyze your overall progress through elements like tables, charts and matrices. Using these resources enables you to assess your task completion rate over a longer period of time and make strategic decisions based on your findings.

  • You can share your task tracker with others. Although Excel stores your task tracker locally on your device, sharing it with others is a simple and straightforward process. If you want to show your task completion status to a manager, colleague or any other party, you can simply store it in a shared drive and give them access to it.

Related: Task Management Skills: Definition and Examples

How to use a task tracker in Excel

Follow these five steps to create and use a trackable to-do list in Excel:

1. Open Excel and create column headers based on your requirements

After opening Excel, you can start creating new column headers with the name of the elements you want to track. These are usually the main elements of your tasks, with some common ones being:

  • Task ID: Giving each task an ID can help you easily access it at a later date. It can also be useful when you share your tasks with colleagues, as it can help you avoid any misunderstandings when referring to a specific task.

  • Task name: Although the ID can help you quickly identify a task, giving it an appropriate name can make it easier to remember. It's usually a good idea to keep task names short and include a description field with more information.

  • Due date: A task's deadline is usually an important piece of information, and keeping track of all your deadlines can help you arrange your tasks in a way that improves your chances of completing them on time. This is especially important when working on projects that involve multiple tasks in succession.

  • Task owner: If your task tracker includes tasks for multiple people, adding a task owner column can help you keep track of everyone's tasks. It's also useful if you're in charge of leading a team, as you can manage their work and progress throughout a project.

  • Task status: You can add a column that describes the exact progress of each task. You can use it to mention whether a task is not yet started, in progress or completed, and also include other potential statuses depending on the exact nature of the task.

  • Task importance: Prioritizing tasks based on their overall importance for a project is usually a major part of task tracking and management. You can achieve that by adding a task importance column and rating your tasks accordingly.

  • Additional notes: You can also include a column to add information about your tasks that has no obvious place in other columns.

Related: 14 Personal Task Manag**ement Apps To Keep You Organized**

2. Fill in the details for each task

After creating the columns, you can start filling them in with information. Start off by listing all outstanding tasks and their completion status, as these are the two vital elements that can help you sort your tasks later on. As you gain more information on your tasks, such as their deadline and priority, you can add them to your task tracker.

Related: Task Management Skills: Definition and Examples

3. Add a filter

You can sort through irrelevant data using a filter. This is especially helpful when dealing with a large number of task entries. You can add a filter by selecting the “Sort & Filter” icon on the right side of your Excel taskbar and then selecting "filter." If, for example, you select the “Task Status” column and include a filter, you can choose to eliminate all the tasks you've already completed, helping you get a clearer view of your outstanding tasks.

Related: How To Filter in Excel in 2 Methods (With Examples)

4. Use the filter to sort and prioritize your tasks

After implementing a filter, you can use it to track the status of your outstanding tasks. If you added a filter to your “Task status” column, you can now sort your tasks depending on what you want to see at any given time. This makes it easier to see the tasks that you haven't started to work on yet, the ones you're currently working on, the ones you've completed or any other combination of these categories.

Related: Basic Excel Formulas and How To Use Them

5. Continue using your task tracker

Now that you've built your task tracker, you can use it to help you manage your tasks. You can add more columns if you want to highlight new elements of your tasks and edit existing fields to provide a more accurate description of what they represent. You can also use different colors for each column or status to help you quickly visualize each task's completion progress.

Related: How To Sum Columns in Excel Using Multiple Methods (With Tips)

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Templates of Excel task trackers

Consider creating these task tracker templates in Excel:

Project task list template

This template helps you prioritize the tasks that you or your team members have to complete and makes it easier to manage the task completion process. You can make a new Excel sheet for each project and add these column headers:

  • Task

  • Owner

  • Start date

  • End date

  • % complete

  • Allocated budget

  • Estimated work hours

  • Actual work hours

  • Additional notes

Download Project Task List Template

To upload the template into Excel or Google Sheets, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Related: How To Include Excel Skills on Your Resume

Action items template

Action items are tasks that an individual or team has to complete to advance a project. You can use an Excel task tracker to manage all action items involved in a project, plus their completion status and the people in charge of each. The column headers you can add are:

  • Action item

  • Action item priority

  • Action item owner

  • Date assigned

  • Date due

  • Completion status

  • Additional notes

Download Action Items Template and Example

To upload the template into Excel or Google Sheets, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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