Up until about 2 weeks ago I was a huge fan of To-Do Lists. They helped me to organize my projects and ideas, and I found great personal pride in crossing items off the list. I had created a To-Do List every day for the last 4 years, but then one morning something clicked.
I’m not sure where I first heard about the concept of a “Done List.” It might have been from LifeHacker. It might have been from Oprah, or perhaps it was revealed by Seth. I might have even been tipped off to this productivity tip in a recent management training session, or maybe it entered my psyche during a late night Pinterest browse. I’m really not too sure. Life moves so fast these days that it has been tough to keep track.
Regardless of where I picked up this tidbit, it’s proven over the last couple of weeks to be a valuable tactic in my productivity arsenal. The concept is simple: instead of writing out a To-Do List, I write out the things I was able to complete each day. It’s a Done List.
Quite simply, the Done List helps me to hold myself accountable. It shows me where I’ve spent my time - something that seems to be ever nonexistent when you work for a Silicon Valley start-up. Looking back at the week’s completed tasks provides clarity towards what I need to focus on next week. And seeing the number of things that I have been able to get Done in a day sparks my competitive streak. I want to do better. I want to be more productive tomorrow than I was today.
But beyond that, the Done List brings balance. To-Do Lists had a habit of pointing out everything I didn’t get to, and I’d often leave the office feeling uninspired, overwhelmed, and stressed. Done Lists are a quiet pat on the back at the end of a long day. They’re the glass-half-full, go-grab-a-beer-and-enjoy-your-evening-because-you-earned-it List.