Many employees, even students, are getting overwhelmed with their to-do list, which is basically a list of important things they must do or finish at the end of the day. Indeed, it helps in setting our priorities straight so that we will be able to efficiently and effectively work at our own pace. However, the to-do list does not include the part where we are disrupted to do other work, interrupted by an unexpected problem, or attended to an urgent matter, where no one is available except us. Nonetheless, we would get back to our work and the sight of our to-do list untouched will make us think that we haven't got anything done. This, in turn, will make us feel mentally stressed out and unmotivated because of not being able to accomplish what we set out to do. It is not always, but we may find ourselves having sudden waves of anxiety and a crippling feeling of pressure to get things done.
In an article, Forget the “to-do” list. You really need a “get-done” list, the author, who is also a life coach, developed a technique called the “got-done” list. Contrary to the to-do list, the got-done list is a running log of accomplishments and things that her clients additionally did for the day, big or small. Results about making the got-done list alongside the traditional to-do list have proved to help both the author and her clients in having a broadened perspective and motivational standpoint. Also in the same article, Teresa Amabile, Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, listed some of the benefits of making a got-done list. It included capturing small wins and stirring progress, helping soothe the frustration of not being able to accomplish the set-out goals, and lastly, it helps in identifying what causes clients to lose focus or attention. Indeed, the idea of making a got-done list seemed to be an effective strategy to counter the mental pressure of a to-do list.
After the pandemic has stirred our lives in ways we would have not imagined, we may have, at some point, depending on supplemental reminders of our daily tasks and goals. Undeniably for some, it became the new normal— setting daily goals and working to the extent of our capabilities to finish them. Oftentimes, we check our to-do list more than we check ourselves, and we have perhaps forgotten that in these difficult times, the most important reminder is to take care of ourselves and make sure we are okay.
It is only natural to set our minds on achieving our goals, however, achieving goals is not linear. There will be a time that would seem out of our schedule but it does not define what we can and cannot achieve. We may take a little more of the time than what we have set, but our list will soon be over and done. We may lose a little bit of our time by being interrupted, but we should not lose the ability to start anew.
A simple reminder for everyone who often feels stressed about not getting anything on the list crossed out: be gentle on yourself and enjoy your achievements, no matter how big, no matter how small. The only to-do list we must follow is the one where we are reminded of taking gentle care of ourselves.
Kim, S. (2021). Forget the “to-do” list. You really need a “get-done” list. Wired.