To Do or To Done – that’s the question

I have struggled for a while. To Do or to Done, now that is the question. We all know about the importance to be productive. That is to say that the outcome is not necessarily to get more done but rather what you do, to do it quicker. The quicker you do it the more “me time” you will have. If you then spend this time doing more stuff then that is a choice decision. Why is this important? Well at times there can be a real drive to get loads of stuff done and then to make way for even more stuff. Sometimes this leads to disappointment or an endless day without perspective.

Oops I digress. So where were we, oh yes the importance of being productive. One way, and sometimes the only way, is to make sure we prioritise. Many of us then create a to do list of some sort. This is either digital or analogue. Then there is something else and that is not the To Do list but rather the Done It list. It goes something like this; rather than a To Do it list, it is also important to reflect on the things that have been done. I think we would all agree that the To Do list will be continuously growing. Yes things are crossed of but only to be replaced by more things and so the list sometimes becomes endless. It is extremely satisfying to cross another item off but it is short-lived and this level of satisfaction is not there longer term. The Done It list is created perhaps at the end of each day. You reflect on the things that have been achieved and you list them out. As with everything you can write this down or keep a list electronically. I even found a useful website ( The site send you a daily email and you reply with the things achieved and it catalogues it against the date.
Those that make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness
Perfect, so “don’t have a to do but rather a done list” and so I tried it. Did it work…. Not for me it didn’t. Maybe I am going about it all wrong.
I will be frank and so perhaps I was not disciplined enough. What was worse though that keeping a record like this is only useful if you review it from time to time. Somehow I just never found the time to log in and go through my increasing catalogue. Also for me it just was not enough to have a few liners and so for most important events I needed to keep a more detailed record. However rather than abandoning the idea I had to decide whether to do a deeper dive into this topic and make it work or extract out of this journey what I could. Had I learned anything at all?
The one thing I did find useful is to be able to refer to a key event and understand when it may have occurred. On what date did I meet that new prospective client? When was the moment when that major project we were working on was completed or passed to the next phase of the project life-cycle? When did we release that new products or land that big order? And so forth. We have all been there; you are in a meeting and someone will mention that key events. You therefore need to be able to quickly look it up and carry on with the discussion. At this point I could quickly log in or open that file and search for the item. However although being able to quickly search for something was a bonus, somehow getting there in the first place was not always as quick as I needed it. It is that I reverted back to my notepad. I tend to carry a A5 notebook around as it is a quick way to jot down some notes, To Do’s or sketch ideas. It was far quicker to note it down and look it up again.
At the start of each month I take a new page and down the left side list the dates and a letter of the day. So for March it would be:
01 S,  ________________________________
02 M,  ________________________________
03 T,   ________________________________
04 W,  ________________________________
05 T,   ________________________________
and so on….
This then allows me at the end of the day, when I review things and plan for the next, to quickly jot down the 3 or 4 major events for that day on the line against that date. It literally takes seconds and more detailed notes regarding that event are kept elsewhere. The good thing is that for each month I now have a quick reference page for those events. Then during that meeting I can quickly review it and if it is not on the March page then check on the February page. If I wanted to keep an electronic archive record of it, I could also take a picture of the page and store it in Evernote for searching later.
Quick and simple! It is often the simple things in life that provide us with the greatest reward. This is one that has been really successful for me.

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