Let’s do an experiment. Instead of making lists of all the things we have to do, let’s try making lists of all the things we’ve done. Rather than striking out the scrawled items on the perpetual to-do lists, we transfer those tasks accomplished to an achievement sheet. That way, instead of thinking of all the things we haven’t done, we acknowledge all the things we have. It sounds trivial, but it feels tremendous.
Need a for instance? Today my list would include things as mundane as cleaning a toilet, doing three loads of laundry, checking my email, walking the dogs, doing the dishes, showering.
Looking at that list, I already feel better about myself. I mean three loads of laundry and a clean bathroom isn’t nothing. Let’s keep going! Today the kiddo and I made blueberry muffins, we ate a healthy lunch, I baked some bread, provided feedback to other writers I know, found time to listen to an audiobook that’s been on my to-read list for a while now, and started drafting a blog article AHEAD of schedule for once.
Phew! Now I’m feeling accomplished! And the best part is, I’m not done. I also edited a chapter of my WIP (work-in-progress) and listened to an inspirational talk that people have been buzzing about. I washed a pair of sneakers, and dealt with the little stains that appear on couch cushions (anyone else feel like there are small stain fairies that visit your couch late at night?). In other words, I stepped beyond the things I usually do and found time to do some things that were important to me. And the day isn’t done yet! But even if I add nothing further to this list today, I feel okay about resting on my laurels, because today feels like it’s already full of awesome accomplishments.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times for to-do lists. They’re helpful for organizing individual efforts into a more meaningful whole. They’re great for breaking a large project into manageable bites. And if your memory is like mine, they’re just a nice safety net. But don’t let them own you. Because those nagging to-do’s – the ones that say they need just five or ten minutes of your time – can eat up your whole day. Don’t let the list of mundane things crowd out the time you need for you, the time you need to be creative!
Which is why I like making the list of things I’ve accomplished. Yes, just seeing the list grow makes me feel good, but it also inspires me to want to use the time well. I don’t want to look at that list at the end of the day and see only the mundane. I want to see the meaningful too.