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The Power of Done

Posted May 26, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

If you’re anything like most women in the world, you live and die by your to-do list. Without it, you’re not sure what to start on and what to finish today or any other day.

But let me ask you this. Have you ever gotten to the end of it? Really. Think about that question. When you’re making a to-do list, you’re crossing things off as you get them done, but you’re also constantly adding things. Perpetually, then, you’re in a state of nothing ever really seeming to get done because you’re always in add mode, right?

The problem with that system is this: done is good! Crossing things off the list doesn’t produce that feeling of done. Only finishing a list completely can do that for you. So how can you make your daily to-do list feel more like one you can get done?

Consider these tips:

  • Move to a daily or weekly format for your to-do list instead of one that continues and continues until you run out of space. I use an Excel spreadsheet with sections for “Week of” and include everything I need to accomplish that week in the list. Some people prefer a day-to-day list. Whatever works for you, do it! But get out of the gargantuan list of everything from here to the end of the month or year.
  • When you’re done, you’re done. This is the hardest part of this system. If you use a daily list, and at 3:00pm, you’ve accomplished everything on it, listen to me ladies. You’re done! Now that doesn’t mean that everyone can walk out of the office at 3:00pm. I understand some of you have bosses that would frown upon that. But see those hours not as those to add more to-do’s to, but rather as hours to plan, strategize, and think. If you’re working on a weekly list, and on Thursday afternoon, you’re done….then you’re done! Use Friday to clean, prepare for next week, strategize, or update your resume. Done isn’t an excuse to find more stuff to do!
  • Set a celebration for your “done” moment. When I’m working on a particularly taxing or difficult task, I’ll set something I “get to” do at the end of it. Like, once I finish this strategic planning exercise, I’ll get to check RueLaLa and Gilt to see if there are any great shoes on sale today. It makes me speed through the task efficiently and with ease because I’m looking forward to the “done” celebration.

So go ahead, Career Girls, revel in the idea of getting things DONE, not just crossed off your list.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."