I’m notorious for making a to-do list. I have one on my calendar at work, another I carry around in my purse, and a third posted either on the fridge or on the chalkboard near the entrance to my house. Nothing makes me feel better than checking items off the list. Conversely, there’s hardly anything that makes me feel worse than seeing a list of things that I should have accomplished by the end of the day, that were left undone.
Apparently, I am not the only one. Lots of folks are taskmasters who get jazzed up about planners and checkmarks and lines drawn through completed items. Well, a couple of weeks ago, some very productive people I know started using a new system to complement their traditional systems. (Nerds like me will never, ever part with our more traditional planners and calendars, highlighters and checkmarks. We are, however willing to add supplemental materials. That’s why most of our planners don’t zip closed any more.)
The new system is called a done list. I’ve seen two iterations of this setup. The first is that you write down things, as you accomplish them. I prefer the second implementation which asks you to write down the things you accomplished on a given day at the end of that day.
I’ve been doing this for a few days, and it has made me rethink what “accomplishments” are. Maybe I didn’t complete that business letter that is due by Friday, but I did manage to make it on time to the Cub Scout meeting, and got a healthy meal on the table, even if the baby did refuse to eat it. My done list requires that I look back at my day and remember the ever so tiny victories I’ve won, instead of staring at the blank spaces where checkmarks should be and focusing on what I did not do.
At the end of every day so far, I’ve realized that the list of things i’ve actually completed is longer than my ever growing to do list. Realizing this makes me feel better about life, and my ability to get things done. I sleep better knowing that I accomplished more than I planned, and that prepares me for an even more productive tomorrow.
Try it and let me know what you think.
P.S. Completing this blog post crosses off something on my to-do list – and is going on my done list!