When the end of the day rolls around, and you’re thinking back on the past 12 hours, how do you feel?

Personally, I have a very human habit of fixating on the things I didn’t get to accomplish that day. Even if the day went well, there’s that voice in my head—fueled by a negativity bias—that dwells on the day’s events that didn’t go according to plan.

But research shows that actively doing the opposite can do wonders for our motivation and happiness.

In a recent study, researchers found that those who journaled or reflected on their progress at the end of a workday shifted their perception of obstacles, seeing them more as challenges instead of threats and "setting them up for further progress.”

In other words, reflecting on the big or small wins of the day often turned into more positive progress in the future.

So, how can you incorporate this hack into your day? That's where a "done" list comes in.

Create a Done List

For those with an aversion to to-do lists and the stress that can accompany them, you’re in luck: A “done list” is the opposite of a to-do list. It’s easy to do—just jot down all the things you finish throughout the day, big or small.

The best part of this? What counts as “progress” in your day is entirely up to you. It’s all about taking stock of what you've done, and if that includes “got out of bed” or “drank water,” then that’s perfectly fine.

There are some days when my “done list” is very short, but the act of finding at least one thing that I’ve done for myself is helpful in feeling grounded and productive—particularly at a time where productivity looks very different than I’m used to it looking.

A “done list” is the opposite of a to-do list. It’s easy to do—just jot down all the things that you’ve done in the day, big or small.
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Reflect on Your List

Beyond the immediate benefits of honoring what you’ve done for the day, a secret beauty of a “done list” lies in the fact you can revisit it when your motivation is running low.

If you experience varying levels of imposter syndrome, creating a list of your day-to-day accomplishments can serve as a great, tangible reminder of the ways you’ve shown up for yourself and others.

If you experience varying levels of imposter syndrome, creating a list of your day-to-day accomplishments can serve as a great, tangible reminder of the ways you’ve shown up for yourself and others.
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Reflecting on lists of the past can also help you notice any patterns in your accomplishments.

As you reflect, ask yourself: What do I have an easy time accomplishing? What are things I want to prioritize adding to my list in the future? How did it feel to accomplish this? Are there trends that I can notice about the wins, big or small, that I create for myself?

If you don’t make a “done list” every day, don't be too harsh on yourself. It’s an activity that I pick up when I notice myself listening to my inner critic more than usual.

Overall, it serves as a great reminder that it’s OK to celebrate the micro-progress you make every day—and sometimes making time to savor those wins is a win in itself.


Read Next: How a 'Truths List' Has Helped Me Feel Grounded Lately

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