Most of us are familiar with having a to-do list capturing all the chores, tasks, and responsibilities requiring our attention. Being a fan of making lists for all areas of my life, I work well with a to-do list. It was only during a recent conversation over coffee when I learned not everybody felt the same way about their lists. Apparently, this list can leave others feeling remorseful instead of feeling productive.
For 20+ years, I used a to-do list to keep me on target at work by focusing on my priorities and making all deadlines. My colleagues and I all followed a similar process and took it one step further. We did not use a piece of paper, we used a notebook. We were that serious about our to-do list because in our line of business, these were not just lists to be tossed away once completed. They represented all that we did for the company which I consider proof of our labor production. It was a great way to keep track of our achievements.
Remembering this, I shared with my friends how good it felt to see what was done. I told them how great it felt to flip to an earlier page and see the entire page crossed out. That was when I first understood how my notebooks were not lists of what I needed to do, they were journals which I now consider as my Achievements Books.
This is why I suggest that at the end of the day, you take a few minutes and write out a list of everything you did from your list plus all that you did which was not on your list including your social activities. When you see what you actually accomplished and where your time went, the amazing effect this can have on your self-esteem will surprise you and send you to bed proud of what you accomplished with your day. Imagine how good you will feel instead of that old feeling of remorse for not doing “it all” as you had planned.
Listed below is an example of a more typical list with the completed tasks crossed out showing what I did not yet get to. Compare that to the longer list showing what I really did do for a better understanding as to why I go to bed at night feeling good with myself.
Saturday’s To-Do List
- Go food shopping
- Call the dentist
- Deposit checks at bank
- Go through clothes for donations for a pick up this week
- Went grocery shopping
- Make appointment
- Went to bank
- Dropped clothes at cleaners
- Finally returned Michele’s phone call from last week
- Did 3 loads of laundry
- Stopped by to visit elderly neighbor
- Emptied out trunk of car
- Wrote an article
- Vacuumed and dusted living room & family room
- Cleaned shower and tub
- Walked dog 3x
- Made breakfast & lunch
- Picked up a pizza for dinner for son & his friends
- Met friends at restaurant
If you want to feel empowered, stop thinking about what you have not done and recognize all which you have done. By allowing a few minutes at the end of a day to write out my list of achievements, I can end my day on a very positive note. Think about giving this a try and seeing how great it feels to know that you are more active in your life than you thought you were.