The Big Check Mark

My fellow checklist-lover, this is for you! If you derive satisfaction from crossing an item off your to-do list and if – when you accomplish something that is not on your list – you put it on just so you can cross it off (I’m with you), the below small change could make a big difference for you.

We checklist-types tend to feel more accomplished when we check more things off our list. However, it’s easy to pay too much attention to how many things we are checking off and not what things we are checking off. Keep an eye out for this.  Perhaps you sometimes start your day by working your way through ten not-so-important but really quick tasks on the theory that you will get a little boost by knocking so many items off of your list. You may do this even if your productive morning hours would be better spent on something more important, more complex, or requiring more focus.

The problem is, a two-minute task that didn’t really need to be done and didn’t move the needle forward on your goals equals one checkmark. Meanwhile, a really important task that takes an hour and makes a huge difference equals…one checkmark.

You can feel appropriately accomplished by not only checking items off but also pausing just for a second to recognize the magnitude of the project you just completed. For example, if you’re a paper to-do list person, draw a great big check mark when you finish an important task. If you’re a to-do list app person, do a little happy dance (Riverdance-style under your desk so no one sees is just fine) or exhale with satisfaction, whatever works for you.

Bonus: Be sure to break larger projects down into accomplishable tasks. When you review your to-do list, do you sometimes see items that you did some work on but didn’t finish so you tend to keep hitting snooze and pushing them from one day to the next until they are done? That’s a good sign that you should break those projects down into their component tasks that you can check off each day (yeessss!) to see your progress.

Now go put “read a WLN article” on your to-do list and check it off…with gusto! (And a great big check mark.)

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