I make a lot of lists every single day, but I think the one that helps me prioritize and get the most work finished is the done list.
If you think about it, focusing on what you did rather than what you have to do (or rather, what you didn’t finish) is a great way to gain some extra perspective about your planning. A done list helps me see where the bulk of my time went, where that day’s energy was spent, what goals or big tasks I pushed forward and which ones still need work.
My weekly and daily lists look something like this:
Make a huge “this week” list. This is essentially a brain dump where anything I want to execute gets written down. Idea I want to tackle? Throw it on the list. New blog column or video to film? Add it to this list. It isn’t always feasible and having it on this list doesn’t mean I’m going to do it, but it’s the first step to getting out of my head. I work through this list and my calendar and use that to fill in my planner for the week.
Content this week. This is where I hone in on any content I have to produce this week. It’s a three column list that shows what I’m creating, the date it goes live and where I’m creating it. Every blog post, YouTube upload and email goes on this list. Once it’s done, I put a checkmark next to it to mark it done.
Daily to do list. Which is exactly like it sounds. Whatever tasks have to be tackled that day go on the daily list. This list will often live in my planner, where I added all of those tasks and to-dos from my this week list.
Done list. I try to make on every single day. I only write down the things that I accomplished, and sometimes how long it took me to finish. For example if I edited a video and it took me 3 hours when I thought it would only take one, I’ll note that.
Why the Done List makes a Difference
When you’re trying to get things done effectively, knowing how you’re spending your time is so important. We’re also all creatures of habit, and understanding those habits and how they impact our work shows us how to adjust and accomplish our goals.
If you realize you’re putting 10 things on your to-do list everyday but you’re really only accomplishing 5 of those things, that’s something to note. Are those 5 things important? Are they moving things forward or distracting you from things you aren’t ready to do yet?
After I’ve made my done list, I usually feel so much more productive! Have you ever sat at your desk at 2pm wondering where the time went and what you’ve done all day? Make a done list! You’ll go from feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing to realizing you’ve gotten through 100 emails, read those New Yorker articles you’ve had bookmarked for weeks, wrote a blog post, make lunch plans with a friend and so much more. Trust me, it helps.
If you’ve been feeling stuck in a productivity rut, try adding some emphasis to what you are doing instead of loading yourself up with more tasks. Productive is always, always better than busy.