When it comes to productivity, nothing is more personal than the almighty to-do list. When we spend time with a blank sheet and pen, thinking of what we need to do and writing it all down, that piece of paper guides us through the day.
And let’s face it: For all the productivity apps available, the time-tested, paper-and-handwritten to-do list endures as a great tool for helping us stay on track. Added bonus: No two lists are the same; each list is uniquely ours, personalizing our daily endeavors, charting our productivity.
And writing out a list can easily help us not just with what we need to do, but also what we want to start doing.
Some of us even admit to writing on the to-do list a task that has already been completed just so a line can be drawn through it. Ah, done and done. It’s a great feeling. But this feeling of satisfaction is no mystery. Rather, it’s as simple as seeing our work documented as an achievement — large or small — on paper. For to-do-list devotees, there’s joy in seeing our own handwriting on paper; it’s a record that details, illustrates and celebrates what we’ve done, all that we’ve accomplished.
We know writing a to-do list on paper is proven to spark creativity and productivity, but what happens when everything is checked off?
Maybe it’s time to disconnect and reflect.
Life seems to move at the speed of a finger swipe, so while our day-to-day achievements are often completed, they can also be overlooked as we rush to respond to the buzz of a notification. Think about it: We do a LOT in our everyday lives. Why should we only consider our achievements when we’re writing our résumés? What if a daily — or weekly or monthly — reminder commemorated all the deadlines met, all the projects completed, all the goals we’ve exceeded?
A simple list written on paper can easily serve as a physical reminder of all the awesome things we do every day. It’s not a to-do list, but rather, a “to-done” list — which isn’t grammatically correct but just fun to say. Maybe your list is an “I crushed it!” list or a “Ta-da!” list. Whatever you call it, it’s pen-on-paper proof that you’re getting all the things done —even if things aren’t on your to-do list.
Confused? Don’t be. Consider this list a twist on the to-do list: a paper record of daily accomplishments that doesn’t have to include everything that’s on the to-do list. A “Done!” list or “Ta-da!” list —again, you can make your list work for you — is simply another way for us to examine and be inspired by our daily achievements, much the same way a gratitude journal allows us to reflect and appreciate what we have. And like with any journal or expressive writing, you can start small: Write down three things you did well this week. Later, look at the list — maybe tomorrow or next week — and reflect on what you accomplished with a sense of pride. After you’ve reviewed your list, think about ways to build on these daily successes.
Writing down one’s accomplishments is also a great way to track our daily and weekly resolutions. If you have resolved this year to recycle more and live a more sustainable life, you should see it reflected in your to-done list. And if not, there is something to add to your next to-do list!
For example, a run to the recycling center that you note down may then inspire you to make it a regular weekly or monthly habit. If, like many of us, you are working more at home, you might want to rethink outfitting your work area with new purchases and instead repurpose cardboard to help organize your workspace. By noting these recycling wins on your to-done list, you will not just feel a sense of accomplishment but also a sense of purpose.
If you’re looking for more inspiration to begin a new positive habit, such as recycling, look no further than these free downloadable printables. Choose a theme, like sustainability, that speaks to you, and get to work! You have a lot of productivity to celebrate in the new year.