In Praise of the ‘Done List’: How to Focus on Tasks That Matter

Because so many of my to-do items have been destroyed or prematurely crossed out, I’ve mostly gone electronic with my lists. I’ve had great success with my current to-do list app, Carrot, who sends vague threats about my virtual kitten’s health when I’m not productive enough. I’m doing a great job finishing day-to-day tasks. Even with this app, though, my dusty tasks are piling up. As Carrot so often reminds me, I’m falling behind.

That’s why I was so excited to read L.V. Anderson’s Anti-To-Do List. The “done list,” a concept she borrows from productivity research, isn’t a record of tasks to do, but of things accomplished. The list is a visual reminder of those things you’re most proud of, be those small daily tasks or long lifetime ones.

On those days when I don’t get to cross anything off of my to-do list, I’ve taken to making mental done lists like this one:

  1. Played Candy Land 10 times
  2. Went out to lunch with kiddo BY MYSELF!
  3. Shopped for dinner.
  4. Baked cookies.
  5. Walked to the park.
  6. Washed 3 loads of laundry.
  7. Dried 2 loads of laundry.
  8. Folded 1 load of laundry.
  9. Read a bonus bedtime story.
  10. Cuddled kiddo to sleep.

I love my done list because it reinforces why I haven’t gotten to my dusty tasks. If I can secure the Sharpies, I might have to start writing them down to remind myself that I’m getting the important things done.

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