Been there, done that

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.
Marie Curie
1867 – 1934

Many of you have probably heard of a “honey do” jar or a job jar: a container stuffed with slips of paper listing all the little things that need to be done around the home. That way, whenever you have spare time, you don’t have to remember the different items that need maintenance or repair — you can just pull a slip from the jar and get started on a chore.

Unfortunately, the problem with a job jar is that it always seems to be full of jobs; no matter how many you do, there are always more waiting. When you look at all those slips of paper, it’s easy to forget what you’ve already done and think you aren’t making any progress.

To-do lists — especially virtual ones — have the same downside. The focus is on what still needs to be done; there’s no recognition for the things you’ve already completed. By the end of the day, you don’t remember all the little jobs you finished. You just see the ones you didn’t. In those circumstances, it doesn’t take long to get discouraged and begin to feel like you’re never doing enough.

Whether you use a job jar or a to-do list, it’s important to keep track of what you’ve accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back. Otherwise, it gets tough to stay motivated when new tasks keep stacking up.

I propose you keep a complementary container: a “done that” jar or list. If you use a job jar, keep a second jar next to it with “DONE THAT” written in big letters on the label; each time you finish a task, drop the task assignment into the done that jar. For extra incentive, you can mark different levels on the side and give yourself rewards as the papers top each new level. If you’re a fan of to-do lists instead, keep your lists in a notebook so you have a record of your progress. You can assign rewards for a specific number of finished tasks, with a big reward each time you complete an entire page worth of tasks.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by your task list and forget everything you’ve already done. If you start feeling discouraged, just look at all the papers in the done that jar and remind yourself how much progress you’ve made. You’ve probably done a lot more than you remember.

Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.
Thomas Carlyle

Copyright © 2021 John Chancellor and Cheryl Chancellor

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