Working from home presents its own unique set of problems.  For us entrepreneurs, productivity is usually measured at the end of the day by how much we still need to do rather than what we’ve already accomplished.  This is a backwards thought process that can only end in frustration and a complete lack of motivation.  Feelings of inadequacy, you’ve met your match: introducing the Ta-Da list.

A positive spin

A Ta-Da list is like your To-Do list, only much more positive.  A To-Do list is a never-ending stress inducing piece of paper that will never account for all the things you actually do throughout your day. A Ta-Da list is a way of seeing exactly what you have done rather than focusing on what still remains to be done.

ta-da!

Your Ta-Da list can either be a separate list or an edited To-Do list; the important thing is that you are giving yourself credit for every task you’ve accomplished, whether it’s on your original To-Do list or not.

The ambulance

Throughout even the best planned day, interruptions and crisis situations arise that require immediate attention.  A day spent on these “pop-up” situations can feel wasted; you were so busy dealing with Aunt Zelda’s surprise birthday party plans that you didn’t edit your web content today.  Instead of being happy that you’ve planned Aunt Zelda’s 93rd skateboarding birthday party at the park, you focus on what you didn’t complete.  To you, this day was a complete waste.  For Aunt Zelda and her insurance company, the day was a win.

Aunt Zelda

Using a Ta-Da list gives you a better perspective on how you managed your time.  Because Aunt Zelda wasn’t on your to-do list, you didn’t count the time you spent arranging for an ambulance to be on stand-by at the park for her party as productive.  A Ta-Da list lets you take well-deserved credit for handling all the unexpected tasks that arise daily, even though they weren’t part of your original to-do list.  It’s also a great way to measure your completed daily activities so you can keep track of your time-management and productivity levels.  Your Ta-Da list is your reason to feel great about your day.

Open Loops

Ever heard of the Zeigarnik effect? In the 1920’s, Russian psychiatrist Bluma Zeigarnik made a profound breakthrough regarding the human psyche.  The human mind is better able to recall tasks that aren’t completed than those that are.  What that means to the entrepreneur is that, at the end of the day, we feel that we haven’t done a thing when we have actually completed many tasks.

Open loops

Try to close as many open loops as you can. It will help you to focus and to be more present at the tasks at hand. But use the ta-da list to be aware of what you accomplished.

So why is a study from nearly a century ago relevant to us today?

This concept is a huge breakthrough for all of us staring at an unending “To-Do” list.  It means that despite feeling overwhelmed at all the things we haven’t checked off the list, we should be focusing on the things we have.  The Ta-Da list lets you do just that.  As any task is accomplished for the day, scheduled or not, write it on your Ta-Da list.

Ta-Da lists are easily created with a pen and paper or a spreadsheet, but there are quite a few free templates available online as well.

conclusion

As entrepreneurs, we need to find every chance we can to keep our motivation and our willpower levels on their highest settings.  Putting a positive spin on a stressful To-Do list is a very effective way for us to justify, even by our own impossible standards, that we are accomplishing everything that we need to.

What did you get done today that was not on your to-do list?