Friday, 9 September 2016

The 'Done' List: Acknowledging Achievements

I've always been overly critical of myself; I give myself a hard time and feel guilty if I spend a few hours resting. As someone that suffers with chronic pain, I should be used to chilling out and letting myself recover but I put a lot of pressure on myself, and never give myself credit for the things I do do.

As a lover of lists, stationery, planning, and someone with the memory of a goldfish, I often make to-do lists. Okay, not often, I make a new to-do list almost every day. They're never anything massive but it'll be along the lines of, 'email Beth', 'call the doctors', 'post letters', 'write article for...' etc. And sometimes I get one of those things ticked off, sometimes (if it's a really good day) I'll get them all completed, and other days I won't do any. 

For someone that beats themselves up on the daily, not completing any of my tasks is difficult. The guilt monster rips me to shreds. I may have had a really good reason to have not executed anything on my list; I may have been in agony, I may have done something else, or conversely, I could have not been arsed. Either way, seeing a list of things I should have achieved with no ticks next to them is a massive slap in the face and it really hinders my mental health. I begin concentrating on all the time I've squandered; I tell myself I've wasted a day. I'm a failure, lazy, I'm ridiculous for misusing twenty-four hours. Sometimes a to-do list can be overwhelming, never-ending, and it chips away at my morale. I disappoint myself.

I perpetuate this cycle of kicking myself when I'm down. Feeling guilty for thinking I've done nothing. And quite frankly torturing myself.

That's where the 'done' list comes in. 

It's really simple and I don't know why I haven't been doing it longer. But a 'done' list is writing/typing/voice recording (whatever your preference) all the things you have done during a day you didn't achieve everything you intended on completing, for whatever reason. 

For example, if I have five things on my to-do list and I've not done any of them but I've woken up in agony and can't think straight let alone complete any tasks, I make a done list. 

Yes, you're in loads of pain but what did you achieve?

- I got out of bed
- I put clean pyjamas on
- I made a drink
- I made breakfast
- I did some stretches

The achievements can be absolutely anything that you have done during the day. So, you may not have even looked at your to-do list but you certainly haven't wasted a day, you've done as much as you could. For me this really helps with my guilt. I never acknowledge my achievements, be it big or small, I'm the definition of self-punishment. But a 'done' list is really assisting me in giving myself some slack. Having this 'done' list written out somehow proves to my strange little head that I'm not a failure and my day was worthwhile.

Even when I've not completed my tasks from my to-do list and pain has no bearing on it, I find writing a 'done' list beneficial. Some days I'm too down, too anxious, too paranoid but try to compose a 'done' list. Even if all I've achieved is getting out of bed or replying to a text. I find comfort in giving myself some credit. It's going to take time for me to no longer feel guilty when I believe I've lost a day but I think my 'done' lists will be the way forward.

How do I compose a 'done' list? Sometimes they're daily, sometimes weekly, it all depends on my mood. And you can adjust yours to whatever works for you. I have a health planner that I document my pain, migraines, mood in, and use that to track my achievements.

I still avidly write to-do lists, but the 'done' list is definitely my recent saviour. 


  1. I actually have a giant Done list that covers the biggies in life and is great to look back over when I'm feeling sore and down but I hadn't thought of porting the idea to smaller victories. Next time I'm having a really hard day I think I'll give this a go. :)

  2. Great post Sarah, never thought of doing a done list...I must start x

  3. I really like this idea, such a positive attitude motivation! X


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