Even if you don’t write To Do Lists, everyone knows what they are. And let’s face it – most of us rely on To Do Lists to help us remember all the projects and tasks we are working on. Some people keep theirs in their phone, others use random scraps of paper or a special notebook, but the act of checking off or drawing a line through an action item can feel really great.
A while back, and I no longer remember where I came across this tip, someone said that instead of listing the various tasks on a To Do List, list the outcomes instead. Essentially, you write the word RESULTS at the top of the page and beneath it you bullet point what each task would look like upon completion. So, for example instead of writing Clean The Garage (task), you’d write A Clean, Orderly Garage (outcome). Or for another example, instead of Do The Dishes (task), you’d write (All dishes clean and put away). Those are just some domestic examples but of course this works for career, health, relationship and any other type of goals you may have.
The whole point of doing it this way is because it gets your brain out of the mundane level of the task itself and up onto a higher plane of picturing the job already accomplished, and as we all know from lots of sports research, future visioning is a very powerful strategy for success. When you envision the clean garage, your brain can’t help but start to imagine how spacious and orderly it is, how the floor shines, how you’ll be able to find all your tools quickly and easily and what a pleasure it will be to use. Those kind of thoughts aren’t generated by a To Do List with a task like Clean The Garage, which mostly spurs you to go inside and take a nap.
If you’re a list maker, give it this tip a try. As you write down your To Do items, immediately think of the final outcome and write it that way instead. Then notice how quickly you make your way through the list and how you feel as you do it. You may find, like me, that you’re a convert to focusing on Results.
Barbara Wayman, APR