Not A Task List, A Done List

My son and I spend a not insignificant amount of time at Ninja Warrior assault courses. After our first exploration to the one in Sheffield, we found one in Leicester we really like and go fairly regularly for an hour or two to challenge ourselves. This is our fun time together. On our last visit, James was very disheartened that he couldn’t “beat the wall” on the adult course.

“I still can’t get up there dad” he said whilst we grabbed a drink. Making him think twice about trying again. I could tell him that it’s a long way up, he’s only small still, and all sorts of comforting things. However, I said the only thing that should be said in this situation and that is, don’t look at what you can’t do yet, look at how far you’ve come.

When we first went, neither of us were anywhere near getting through half of the obstacles, never mind about beating the wall. Only a few months later, he’s swinging from things, darting up cargo nets and has improved his balance and co-ordination no end. That’s not enough for us humans, though, our negativity bias focuses on the wrong things. Fixated on what we are still yet to do, instead of what’s already been done.

There is no better example of this than my task list at work. It’s constantly filled with things I need to do. Like the heads of a hydra, and as soon as I check one off, there is at least another to take its place. Which is fine, until a certain point where you realise you’re on a treadmill with no escape. It starts to feel a bit overwhelming and often leads to a lack of motivation. Pretty quickly, life could become untenable.

So let’s flip the thinking here. Instead of looking at the outstanding tasks, let’s look at the ones already checked off. Focus on a done list rather than a to-do list. Any time I feel a bit overwhelmed by what’s on my plate, not only do I remember there will always be more work, but also flip through my Bullet Journal and look at all the crossed off items.

From there, it’s pretty easy to frame this into a remarkable achievement, rather than a stressful nightmare.

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