Many of us rely on plans and to-do lists to prioritize our time and stay on track for the future, but what about after we complete those tasks and projects? Should we just check things off the list and move on?
It turns out there are numerous benefits to writing down and celebrating our past accomplishments on an ongoing basis.
Here are just a few reasons to keep an Accomplishments List:
- Looking back at our past achievements produces a satisfying happiness boost. Thinking about our wins makes us feel like a winner.
- Focusing on what we achieved and what went well can enhance our overall view and positively change the way we remember the past (even if we experienced challenges or failures in that same time period).
- Being reminded of past successes motivates us to work hard for more accomplishments in the future, thereby producing an ongoing cycle of success and achievement.
- Keeping an Accomplishments List keeps us focused on our actual productivity and what we get done -- not just how busy we are.
A bonus is that if you work in an office with annual performance reviews, keeping a weekly Accomplishments List will yield a large pool of successes to choose from at review time to remind your manager just how great your year was! If you relied on memory alone, chances are that you and your boss would forget about many of the things you achieved weeks or months prior.
Wondering how to get started with an Accomplishments List, and how to make it part of your regular routine?
In the terrific new book, How To Have A Good Day, author Caroline Webb cites the example of an office worker who made it a habit to block out the 5:00-5:30 p.m. window every Friday to write down the single best thing she achieved that week. That is almost always a quiet time at work, and a great opportunity to reflect on the week that just went by. And while she blocked out a full half hour, she acknowledged that the practice really only takes 5 minutes.
As for me, I like to maintain an ongoing Accomplishments List that I keep in my email inbox. I add to it every time I complete a task or project that I am proud of, and then I email the updated version to myself so it stays toward the top of my inbox.
Keeping the list in a visible place keeps my past successes top of mind, which tends to improve my mood, and adding to the list feels fantastic. I keep the running tally throughout the year, and then file the list away and start a new one at the beginning of each calendar year. That helps me to mentally celebrate the past year, and then "turn the page" for the year ahead.
It really doesn't matter how you do it -- the key is to get your accomplishments out of your head and down on paper while they're fresh. Keep the list going and make it a habit to look back and acknowledge what you've achieved.
Once you make this part of your routine, don't be surprised if your Accomplishments List becomes just as valuable as your To-Do List!