To Do and To Done

| May 3, 2010

With so many things to do, sometimes I get lost. I write a To Do list but end up doing a host of other things only to find that I haven’t touched a thing on my To Do list.

Last week I performed an experiment. I created a To Do and a To Done list. On the left side of my laptop I have my To Do list. Anything I think of or plan to get done or need to get done is on that list.

On the right side of my laptop is my To Done list. On the To Done list I wrote everything that I have done whether or not it was on the To Do list.

My Findings after a WeekTo do List image by: David Siqueira

After a week of listing my To Dos and To Dones I found that my productivity increased drastically.  If I had to put numbers on it I’d say my productivity increased by about 70 or 80%.  The To Done list not only gave me a great sense of accomplishment, I also got to see where I spent my time thus giving me info on how to better use my time.

I noticed that by the third day into the experiment, more and more of the items on my To Do list were actually getting done and listed on the To Done list. By the end of the week I had 8 pages of completed tasks on my To Done list where I only had 4 pages of tasks on my To Do lists.

I’m a Tweener

I found that as long as I sat in between my To Do and To Done lists, I was a very productive woman. If, on the other hand, I started to accomplish tasks off the top of my head without listing them on my To Do or To Done lists, my productivity dropped.

Give it a shot. If you feel the way I felt at the end of the week, wondering “What have I accomplished?” Then try your own experiment. At least at the end of the week you can review your To Done list to see exactly how much work you did get done.

Image by: David Siqueira

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Category: Freelance, Working from Home, Writing

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (13)

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  1. prerna says:

    I am a total list-it all person, Felicia and am glad you’re having fun with a to-do list. I use the to-do list on Google Desktop or regular post its in addition to making weekly and monthly goal lists.. I know I have a problem.. I will get help.. Let me put it on the list:-)
    Blessings and best wishes
    .-= prerna´s last blog ..Books I Read and Enjoyed in April =-.

  2. Felicia,

    As always, I need help in the productivity department. The internet is great for time suckage and I am a I-need-to-Google-this-right-now kind of person. Then, I am off going down a rabbit trail on something that just ‘popped into my head.’ So I totally get how being distracted is so easily accomplished, and having a ‘To do’ and ‘To Done’ list is a great way to stay on task!
    .-= Julie – Inspired to Write´s last blog ..Getting my Suite 101 Articles Done =-.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I love this idea! I’m constantly making To Do lists and then not doing half of the things on there. A To Done list might just help me keep better track of my progress. Thanks for the tip.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Use Bukisa to Increase Page Views on Other Writing Sites =-.

  4. Shannon says:

    Sounds awesome, Felicia …

    What I do is write a to-do list (with a pen — on paper!) and anything I’ve done that’s not on the list gets written on the reverse. Kind of the same concept as “To Done”. Actually, it is identical except they’re not separate documents.

    My opinion on getting things done is “whatever works”. Whatever helps your productivity is the way to go. And I dismiss all these cookie-cutter formulas; IMO, a person’s getting-things-done system should be personal, highly individualized and tested. So, great job and thanks for sharing yours.
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Freebie Friday: Join Birthday Clubs to Get Birthday Freebies =-.

  5. Crystal says:

    Good use of old paper. And I like the idea of having a hardcopy, too. I am impressed that you have open space on both sides of your laptop – you must be way more organized than me!
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Grandma’s Little Black Book for Freelance Writers =-.

    • Felicia says:

      The reason I now have space on both sides of my laptop is because last week I was so productive, my desk is clear. Well, it’s not my desk. This week I’m working in the dining room. I like to change scenery from week to week. Now that I’ve got things so organized, all I need is my laptop and my folder with my to do and to done lists. Oh, of course I do need my speakers (I listen to Pandora when working), my headset for when I dictate, my portable mouse (I so hate the one that comes with the laptop) and my digital voice recorder. 🙂

  6. Ignatius says:

    In an odd coincidence I just popped over here from looking at a free onscreen timer. Maybe I should take this as a confirmation that I need to use it? (ADHD–it’s not just for kids anymore :))

    I haven’t tried it yet, but if anyone is interested, here’s the link:
    http://www.focusboosterapp.com/

    • Felicia says:

      It’s funny how great minds think alike. Ignatius, earlier in the day I downloaded a timer not so much to help me work, but to nudge me to get off of the computer. I set it for 60 minutes at a time. As you know time flies when you’re on the computer.

      I haven’t tried focusbooster, but I did download this one: http://www.nestersoft.com/timeleft/. It comes with several different timers. So far I’m only using one, but I can see how the other timers can be useful.

  7. Crystal says:

    Mandy – Using a timer to focus for a specific time period sounds really helpful here in adult-onset ADD land. Thanks for the idea!

    And Felicia – Are you actually keeping paper lists or do you have them somehow showing up on your computer screen?
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Grandma’s Little Black Book for Freelance Writers =-.

    • Felicia says:

      I used to put them on my computer screen, but I would always end up losing it or not paying it any mind. Now I use the backs of discarded reports. My kids always seem to print more copies of reports than they need so I save the papers, staple them together and write on the backs of them.

      Having the physical paper allows me to thumb through them at the end of the week to marvel at my progress. 🙂

  8. Mandy says:

    That’s a great idea. I also set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes of writing during which I don’t allow myself to be distracted. For each 25 minutes, I earn 10 minutes of blow-off time for email and other stuff.

    • Felicia says:

      Mandy, I like your idea. I’m going to give that one a try. I find that some days I lose focus so a 25 minute timer would help. Although when I’m having one of my lack of focus days, I might have to set the timer at 15 minute intervals. 🙂

  9. Crystal says:

    What a great idea! I desperately need a strategy to increase my productivity and will give this a try:)
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Grandma’s Little Black Book for Freelance Writers =-.