Tuesday, February 7, 2012

So long To Do's ....Hello To Done's

Do you ever get that feeling that nothing is getting done?  Or ask yourself, "what did I even do today...did I accomplish anything?"  Unfortunately, I am asking myself these things all the time.  I am tired of feeling as if I have accomplished nothing, especially when I know I spent my time doing something!  So, to resolve this issue I am making 'To Done' lists in the place of my 'To Do' lists.

As my family knows, I am notorious for making To Do lists.  Even as a young child (before I could even write ;) I have been creating To Do lists.  I am the queen of formulating lists, the master of creating tasks, and the samurai of organizing duties.  It is true, however, a To Do list can keep you well organized, on track, and prevent you from forgetting those pressing obligations.....but, they are not always good.  They may also lead to stress, anxiety, frustration, and yes even the P-word (procrastination). 

 For me, my To Do lists are taking over my life.  They are hanging over my head like a bad omen.  To make things worse, I am being instructed by my advisor to make the ultimate To Do list.  Do you have any idea how overwhelming it is to actually write a To Do list for everything (and I mean everything) that needs to be done for a Masters project?  The thought of this list may give me a heart attack.  I am nearly hyperventilating just looking at it!  Focusing on the hundreds of tasks that need to get done is stressful, which can ultimately lead to procrastination.  Why procrastinate?  I know that I am guilty of this because I am not ready for the next item on the list, or I have become discouraged and need to pull my mind away from the task at hand. 

I am not sure if I only found this funny because I was procrastinating or not, but I certainly laughed.

So, to combat this I am doing away with To Do lists and moving on to To Done lists!  This is going to make my memory 10 times better, because instead of writing down everything I need to do, I am going to focus on remember it.  I think this will also help my brain to auto-prioritize.  Meaning, if there is something very crucial that needs doing, my brain will 'tell me' and I will never need to look at a list again!  Each time I complete one of these tasks (that my brain has wired to my hands) I am writing it down on my To Done list.  That way, at the end of each day I can look at my To Done list and feel proud!  I can say to myself, "Damn, I am good...look at everything I have accomplished today!"

How is this different from a To Do list you might ask?  Well, on To Do lists you are always crossing tasks off a long list.  This may feel good for about 5 seconds, until you realize there are at least 7 other items still on that damn list.  Why not feel instant gratification by writing your accomplishments down instead?  Here is my To Done list for today, and I still have time to add more.  I feel better already!

PS. If you are observant, than you know that I am slightly guilty of recently making a To Do list on this blog (yes, I am closet list maker), however I would like to rename that list to 'Monthly Goals'.  I hope this won't be held against me, because I promise I am done with To Do lists!


  1. I pad my to do lists with necessities....like drink coffee, take a lunch break, etc. Works wonders for sustaining motivation to get through the list! -Hizzle

    1. That is a great idea. I should add eat lunch, have a cookie, and coffee break to mine!

  2. This is actually a leadership motivational technique. I had my managers keep accomplishment books and each week write something they accomplished. After a year has passed, they can look back and recognize their successes. I also do this with my employees at staff meetings. It adds meaning to your work and motivates continuous improvement. Great idea! I have to say that it doesn't take the place of to do lists. What I have found effective to manage to do lists is actually putting it on my calendar in a time slot, because if you don't actually schedule time, it won't get done. We are often unrealistic about how long something will take, so the more realistic, the more we will actually accomplish.

    1. You are so smart Mom...that is why you get paid the big bucks ;) I like the idea of putting To Do's on a calendar, but my problem would likely be the realistic part. Everything is always taking me far longer to accomplish than what I think it should (as most things do). The accomplishment book is a great idea, especially for the workplace! More places should do that.