3 Reasons a To-Done List Can Change Your Whole Perspective
Raise your hand if you ever ended the day wishing that you had gotten more done! We’re all raising our hands, right?
If we’re being real here, there is an impossible amount of things to get done in a day. In addition to pouring ourselves into our careers, we try to stay fit, spend time with family and friends, try to be good citizens of the world, meditate, exercise, eat well, keep a clean house, and maybe even have hobbies or a side hustle.
And if you’re anything like me, to keep track of it all you might have a To Do list that somehow never gets any shorter no matter how hard you push. So how can we ever feel like we’ve done enough?
Please meet: the To Done list.
What is a To Done list? It’s a list of all of the things that you did accomplish. It can be done at the end of a day, a week, or even a month or a year–and is a wonderful way to flip the script on that gnawing feeling of not crossing enough things off of our To Do list.
When you make a To Done list, be as specific and detailed as possible. There is no need to list just the things you crossed off of your To Do list (although that can be a good place to start.) Walk through your day hour by hour, or pull up your calendar for a longer period of time, and really thing through everything you have gotten done. Think broadly, list everything out, even the small things, and spend some time taking it all in.
Here are three reasons why this practice works:
It offers an immediate mindset shift
When we grab a blank piece of paper and start writing down what we’ve done in a day (or longer), we move from focusing on what’s left undone, to starting to notice and even to celebrate what we have ticked off the list.
What’s more, you will start to notice the incredible amount of things you do in a day that weren’t on any list to begin with: things like helping a co-worker work through a thorny problem, reading relevant articles that spark ideas, or doing your after-work errands.
If you open your heart to a full inventory of what you have accomplished in a day, it’s quite likely that you will surprise even yourself with the sheer amount that you were able to fit in.
It can help us claim our time back
We might find ourselves asking, “Where did the time go?”––and a To Done list can answer the question for us with great clarity. Perhaps we will see that we spent our time in alignment with our own values and priorities, in which case we can rest assured that we are on the right track.
But, if we notice that a lot of the things we did do were not ways in which we would like to spend our time, then we are offered a clear picture with which to make future decisions on how we spend out days. If we spent a lot of time listening to a chatty colleague, for instance, when we wished we had been working on our own projects, then maybe a pair of headphones or a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door might be in order. A To Done list can be a great clarifier.
It can open us up to gratitude
When you’re done making the list, don’t just toss it. Re-read it, let it sink in, and take a moment to really appreciate everything that is on it. You’re doing better than you think!
Taking the time to look at precisely the things you have already accomplished can show you just how amazing you really are. There will always–always!–be more left to get done, but by taking a few moments to connect with what we put out into the world can give us a more clear picture of the reality of our lives. And the reality is that you are doing pretty spectacular things.
When we really ruminate on all the things we make happen in a day–from smaller things like remembering to wear sunblock or making a healthy lunch choice, to big ones such as delivering a project on-time–we can actually be grateful for our own abilities.
A To Done list is a simple but powerful practice that you can do any time that you might need a reminder of just how fantastic you really are.
This guest post was authored by Liza Kindred
Liza Kindred is the creator of EFF THIS! Meditation, where she offers mindfulness practices to cynics, skeptics, and busy people. She is also the founder of Mindful Technology™ where she teaches companies how to build tech that values humans more than machines. Kindred is a licensed minister, a level two reiki practitioner, and a terrible but passionate surfer.
As a meditation teacher and sought-after global keynote speaker, Kindred has taught and spoken on five continents, from huge events like SxSW and Web Summit to intimate gatherings on living room floors. Her clients include companies like Vogue Magazine, Microsoft, Hearst, and FedEx. She has appeared in The New York Times, Wired Magazine, Well+Good, The Telegraph, and Entrepreneur Magazine.