Actions matter more than intentions.
This post was not on my To Do List.
But it will be on my Done list when I hit publish — and that’s more important.
Our collective obsession with productivity hacks has led to an endless supply of tips about how to create and manage your To Do List, but they all miss a crucial point.
Your Done List is more important than your To Do List.
A Done List can take many forms, but it’s a place to track what you’ve accomplished in a given time frame. That could include tasks you complete, metrics you measure, or even ideas you generate.
It’s a way to visualize what you actually get done as opposed to just what you plan/hope/need/are told to do.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a To Do List and it can be helpful, your Done List should be the focus of your attention.
Because your Done List holds the key to the productivity and success you seek.
Done Lists inspire. To Do Lists overwhelm.
When you look at your To Do List, how does it make you feel?
Overwhelmed? Unproductive? Hesitant? Tired?
It’s a list of things you haven’t done — many of which you don’t want to do, have avoided doing, and are scared to do.
While it may outline what you hope to accomplish, it can also deter you from doing those things as you face the enormity of what it takes to get where you want to go.
To Do Lists make you feel bad. A Done List has the opposite effect — it makes you feel good.
Because your Done List is a list of accomplishments. Tasks you’ve completed and challenges you’ve overcome. It demonstrates progress.
Looking at it will energize you, fuel your confidence, and encourage you to push forward and add more to your list.
A Done List inspires and reveals momentum. It makes you more productive.
Done Lists matter. To Do Lists don’t.
The only things that matter are things you actually do.
When you add things to your To Do List, you’re not accomplishing them— you’re fooling yourself into thinking you are.
Have you noticed how often people who obsess over To Do Lists and productivity hacks wind up producing very little?
It’s easy for To Do Lists to become traps— distractions and hiding places we use to convince ourselves we’re doing more than we are.
A Done List is different.
When you add something to it, that thing has real meaning. It’s an accomplishment.
It’s more powerful and meaningful because your actions matter more than your intentions.
Your To Do List doesn’t reveal much about you. But your Done List tells all.
If you’ve never created a Done List, try it tomorrow and see if it changes you for the better. I’m sure it will.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go add this post to my Done List.
BONUS: One more way to get more things done…
One of the best ways to become more productive is to learn from how others do it.
And I’ve got a secret weapon for you when it comes to that — my For The Interested newsletter.
Every Sunday I share 10 ideas (similar to the one you just read in this post) about how to get better at your life, work, and art.
It’s a cheat sheet to help you get what you want out of life.
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