I’ve written in the past about the merits of an Anti To-Do List. You’re essentially making a list of the things you have accomplished instead of what you still need to do. It’s a great way to visualize how I spend my time and gives me greater, long-term satisfaction from what I am able to get done.

I have been listing all my accomplishments for TWO YEARS now. The list serves kind of as a productivity diary for me. Over time, I have learned so much about what is important to me. It’s fascinating to see what I prioritized back then versus now. It’s also very handy to be able to quickly search whether I’ve already done something. 

Here are a couple guidelines or rules that I follow that really work for me:

  1. I don’t update this list when I’m on vacation. Vacation and time off is not a time to be measuring your productivity! However, I still try to manage writing a few bullet points on things we got to do that day. As much of a pain that can be to keep up with, it’s so wonderful to look back on when the daily details of my vacation get a little fuzzy.
  2. I consider actually relaxing an accomplishment. It’s easy to look at a few hours you have to yourself as a chance to finally get some things done. Eventually, any spare moment I have becomes eaten up by tasks. When the stars align and I get some precious time to myself, actually taking the time to fully relax (for me, that’s usually eating ice cream and watching a period piece) I write that down in my list to fully acknowledge that it is in fact an accomplishment.
  3. I also implemented a version of this list for work. This way I can very clearly lay out everything I’ve accomplished in the past year during performance reviews. It even helped me negotiate for a higher raise

How To Make Your Own Accomplishment List

So what is the easiest way to get started on one? The best app that works for me is Google Sheets.

I have one tab with the “To-Do List” part. There, I write down the things I need to get done and what days/ times they need to be done by. In a second tab, I put the current date and as I accomplish stuff from my To-Do List, I move it from the first tab to the second. I highlight in purple the extra difficult tasks, especially ones I had been dreading. 

If I have an exciting milestone or big accomplishment, I also paste it into a special third tab. That one is to more easily see all the exciting things I’ve done, like negotiating for a raise at work or hitting a savings goal. This third tab really helps motivate me to accomplish more, so that I can add more to the “special” tab. This tab is something to look at when I’m feeling blah or doubting myself (imposter syndrome, anyone?)

What I Learned After Two Years With My Accomplishment List

Writing down every accomplishment for two years has given me so much insight about myself and what I can realistically do with my time. It’s also shown me that my life is not only defined by what I can quantify.

The main reason I try to stay so on top of things is so that I can have a day or two of not having to get anything done. Being more productive helps me compartmentalize and slice out more free time, meaning I can actually enjoy and get the most out of my “non-productive” time.

An accomplishment list might not be the most effective tool for everyone, but after seeing how effective it was for me, I’d recommend trying it. What do you have to lose?