Instant motivation: My “have-done” list

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, The Juggle, Uncategorized


Over Labor Day weekend, I spent a lot of time with a few good friends, chasing after our kids and keeping up with them in (and out of) the pool. Before the weekend officially started, though, I was dreading the thought of my to-do list. How on earth would I stay on top of it without ruining the last weekend of summer?

Saturday morning, I was up early. I started writing all of the things I needed to get done before Monday, but I kept getting interrupted — by the laundry, by kids who need breakfast (didn’t I feed you yesterday?), by phone calls. So I stopped with the nagging “to-do” list, and started writing down the things I’d managed to get done already that day.

It was long. Longer than I thought it would be. Encouragingly, mood-boostingly long. And instead of feeling guilty for not crossing enough stuff off the to-do list, I was motivated to see how many things I could add to the have-done list instead.

How do you motivate yourself to get things done?

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5 comments so far...

  • I go in cycles, that’s for sure. Some weeks, I have more energy than others and I don’t WANT to sit at my PC or lay about and read after Amelie goes down.

    I don’t make to-do lists for normal household chores though. I know they need to be done and I usually just devote one day a week to that stuff.

    Also, envisioning the end result can push my ass into gear if needed.

    I really like your have done idea though. Right now, my to-do list is way longer than I thought it would be - and with major projects too. : (

    Phe  |  September 9th, 2010 at 11:19 am

  • I totally do the “have done” list mentally most mornings. That’s because I’m a night person and I feel really unmotivated to get down to business in the morning. If I could have my way, I wouldn’t boot my computer until at least noon. Ha! So when I start to feel a twinge of guilt for not having done a bunch of “work” by 10:30am, I go through my “have done” list. Like yesterday: got up early, reviewed and notarized a document, booted my computer and checked my emails, worked with my kids on self-esteem, discipine, and reading, took out the garbage, discussed delegated work with a subordinate, cleaned the garage a little, got my kids fed and ready for preschool, got myself ready to take the kids to preschool, got them there “only” a little late, cleaned the kitchen and the kids’ room, checked my do-it-yourself critter barriers around my house’s foundation, did some work in the basement to discourage critters and get rid of residual smells, had a healthy breakfast, took my vitamins, read a chapter of a book, responded to an email, . . . . About 10 minutes of billable work!

    Then again, maybe I really am a slacker . . . .

    SKL  |  September 9th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

  • SKL, I’m the same way! I hate working in the morning. It’s nice to look back over my morning and see that it was productive (if not financially…).

    Rachel Heath  |  September 9th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

  • I totally do this all the time. I’m a total list person so if it’s the middle of the day, I write down the things I’ve accomplished already just to check them off because I get some serious satisfaction out of crossing things off… I think everyone should have a “have done” list. ;)

    Stacey M  |  September 13th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

  • Love, love, love the idea of a “have-done list.” I feel like I never have a cleared to-do list, and most items are never actually complete, maing it hard to cross it off. Like laundry, dishes, feeding kids, a writing project, etc. Writing what I HAVE done lits my work, not just things that are complete. Makes it much more rewarding to do just 1 of the 4 basket of laundry., which wouldn’t get crossed off a list, but can be listed as “have-done”!

    Kristi  |  September 25th, 2010 at 12:06 am