Sometimes I come home at the end of the day, look around the house, and ask “So what did you do all day?” And when I ask myself that, I’m usually at a loss for an explanation. Because I know I did something. And I know I stayed busy. But I’ll be darned if I can list the things I did.
As I was reading a friend’s blog entry yesterday, I was reminded of a time about a year ago that I was bogged down in the sense that I would never, ever catch up. I knew I had a to-do list, but in spite of my crazy-busy days, it never seemed to get any shorter. And reading her blog reminded me of a trick I used then to convince myself that I really, truly accomplish things during my days.
In a moment of desperation, I decided that I was going to spend one whole day writing down all the things I accomplished. No matter how small the task, I was going to add it to the list. And so I moved through my day with a notepad and a pen always in arms’ reach. And at the end of the day, my list occupied three pages of those magnetic-grocery-list type notepads.
Most of the tasks were short. Make a phone call. Take out the trash. Make a school lunch. Clean up after breakfast. Cook dinner. Fold towels. Vacuum. Drop off the kids. Pick up the kids.
And therein was the problem: because I spent my day doing small, repetitive tasks that I did every single day, somehow those accomplishments didn’t “count” in my head. But if I ignored those small, repetitive tasks for enough consecutive days, my kitchen might resemble a science fair project, and I’d be on a first-name basis with the kid at the drive-thru window.
So every once in a while, work in reverse. Instead of scratching things off your list, build a list as you go. Put your magnetic pad to good use. If you don’t have one, get one. Let it remind you how uber-productive you are every single day. And when the “inner-you” asks what you did all day, kick her in the shin.