Your to-do list is long.
It never seems to get any shorter does it? And many of the things on your list are long term projects with lots of sub-projects and tasks and whatnot. It seems like some of those things have been on your to do list forever.
Some people will tell you to make sure you break those big projects down into the smallest possible steps so you can keep ticking things off. But then the project itself looks so overwhelming you can’t face it.
But that long list with things that never seem to get ticked off starts to be demotivating.
It lies to you. It tells you that you don’t get anything done. That you are unproductive. That you don’t have what it takes to do this job.
It lies to you.
It lies to you.
Keep a Done list
At the end of each day take a couple of minutes to jot down what you did that day.
What projects did you work on?
How did they move forward? (no apologies; all movement counts, however small)
What commitments did you keep? To yourself? To others? (nothing is too trivial)
Did anything unexpected come up that you dealt with?
You can do this in a little paper notebook you keep just for this purpose. Or a running list in a text or Word document on your computer. Or in Evernote or some other app on your phone or tablet.
Appreciate what’s on your list
Resist the urge to diminish your accomplishments.
Brush away the traces of the things you’d planned or wished you’d done and really see what you have done.
Remember that any change to your routine (whether expected or not) creates a ripple effect, using up more time and energy than you think it deserves because you have to make a lot more decisions about that new thing AND about what to do about the things it has displaced.
You will also adjust your expectations
Over time, you will gain a better understanding of how much you can accomplish in a day.
You will see that the bad days are not typical. Neither are the super-productive days. But that on average you make good progress.
If there are things that are not getting done, you can take steps to make sure that time is allocated to those tasks in a sustainable way. [link to small steps yield big results]
You may also see that you are devoting more time to some things than is warranted and figure out how to fix that.
Your goal is confidence & trust.
You aren’t doing this so you can be a better task master and squeeze more effort and output out of every day.
You are doing this to build your confidence that you do get things done.
You are doing this to build your trust that you will finish the important projects.
You are doing this to build your confidence that you do allocate time to the things that you (and others) value.
You do this so that when your list lies to you, you can say “No, look, I am not unproductive. I get things done. And I CAN do this job.”