Why you should keep a weekly accomplishments list

Takeaway: It’s worth keeping a Weekly Accomplishments List, so you can become aware of the results that investing in your productivity leads to. The list is surprisingly motivating.

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes, 19s.

WriteI’m a big fan of maintaining an Accomplishments List throughout the year, and adding to it whenever I accomplish something awesome. On mine, I keep all kinds of milestones:

  • Relationship milestones, like anniversaries with my girlfriend
  • Milestones related to my book
  • Financial milestones, like in paying off my student debt
  • Milestones related to my body composition
  • Website traffic milestones for my site

Every week or so, I review the list—and this ritual lets me reflect on the results that investing in my productivity has led to over time.

But lately, while I crossed dozens of big tasks and projects off of my to-do list, I haven’t always felt productive—even though I knew I usually accomplished quite a bit in a given day.

Thankfully, a few weeks ago I started maintaining a list that changed this.

To capture all of the tasks I have to get done, and weigh them against one another, I have a giant whiteboard that takes up an entire wall of my office. Even though the whiteboard is massive, since there’s limited space on it—unlike with digital equivalents—after I finished a big task, I simply erased it. While that felt good, once I erased the task there was often no evidence that I ever spent time on it in the first place

Then I started doing something simple: maintaining a list of all of my weekly accomplishments. I don’t put everything I do on this list, but over the week, I add my larger accomplishments to it. For the last few weeks, my list has included things like articles I’ve written for this site, speaking engagements I’ve been proud of, and interviews about my book that have gone well. While my general Accomplishments List contains my big, yearly accomplishments, my Weekly Accomplishments List keeps track of all the smaller things I achieve over the week—things that are easy to forget about once they’re done. The list usually contains about 15-20 items by Sunday.

As I’ve settled into a habit of adding to this this list, I’ve noticed many benefits:

  • The list lets me think in terms of how much I accomplish, and not simply how much I do. This pushes me to do less busywork, and focus more on my important tasks that actually lead me to accomplish something.
  • The list is surprisingly motivating, especially for when I find myself slacking off or doing pointless busywork—just glancing at the list motivates me to add bigger items to it. Even if I got a lot done today, I’m still motivated the next day to grow the list further.
  • The list keeps me accountable. Since I keep it adjacent to my list of daily and weekly intentions, I’m uber-aware of whether I accomplish what I set out to. This lets me reflect on how realistic my intentions are, so I can lower them or increase them going forward.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may have already noticed that I’m a pretty big fan of lists—including the Mindless List, Waiting For List, and Hotspot List. While lists aren’t for everyone, and it’s easy to go overboard with them, I think a Weekly Accomplishments List is one that’s worth keeping. It’s incredible how motivating it can be. This week I intended to write five articles for this blog—it’s Friday as I write this post and it’s the tenth article I’ve written. I intended to read one book this week—and so far I’ve read three. I’ve been maintaining a Weekly Accomplishments List for a few weeks now, and this extra motivation hasn’t died off.

Over a week, it can be all too easy to lose sight of what accomplishments investing in your productivity brings about. Keeping a running list of everything you accomplish over the past seven days—whether on your whiteboard, an index card attached to your computer monitor, or in your notes app, is worth it.

And if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel amazing both while keeping the list, and while reflecting on it once the week is over.

  • This strikes me as akin to adopting a helpful glass-half-full philosophy instead of half empty. Focusing on what one has accomplished instead of what is still undone I think would be motivating and lead to positive feelings of gratitude and self-worth. Good idea!

  • Carla Smith

    I love this idea. I dislike that my to-do-list app hides completed tasks because I love to see the things I’ve done. Using a to-do-list app has improved my productivity, yet left me feeling like I’ve got a never ending mountain of unfinished tasks in front of me. Adding a list of key accomplishments would be a wonderful way to remind me of all that I *did* achieve.

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