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How To Make An Accomplishment List

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? 

About the Author

Natasha Terensky

Natasha is a Penn State Grad (International Business and Business Economics) and is currently a research analyst for a consulting firm. She loves makeup/ beauty, going to concerts, watching period pieces, traveling, and learning more about how to be better with personal finances. You can find her on her YouTube Channel about smart spending and cruelty-free beauty (Too Much Tash).