The Done List

May 28, 2022

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and I was invited to speak to a group of tech entrepreneurs on the topic of “Building Healthy Mental Habits.”

While the founders joined from different countries and different industries, they all faced a common challenge: keeping mentally fit during tough times.

Now, I’m not a trained psychologist or a mental health expert, but I have experimented with different tools and techniques that have helped me through particularly challenging periods.

One tool in particular resonated with this group (and I hope it will with you too).

It’s called The Done List.

What is it?

The Done List is the To Do List’s sidekick.

How does it work?

Rather than looking ahead, it’s used to reflect back.

How does it help?

Our mind is a planning and prediction engine, constantly thinking, “What next?” As a result, we fail to appreciate how far we’ve come and to celebrate the little things.

The Done List shifts our awareness from everything that’s undone to what we have done.

How do you use it?

The next time you’re about to write a To Do List, remember The Done List.

Take a moment to reflect on a few recent accomplishments you’re proud of, big or small. Then jot them down.

Notice if it changes your mindset and helps you appreciate the progress you’ve made.

Try it yourself and let me know what you think!


There are a number of ways you can experiment with The Done List in your life, and here are a few I’d recommend trying out.

The Daily Done List. Keep it simple and jot down 1-3 accomplishments at the end of a day. Perhaps they’re not all tasks, but moments you appreciated (e.g. went on an afternoon walk). I often use The Five Minute Journal for this.

The Weekly Done List. Lately, my partner and I have been setting aside time on a Friday to sketch out the week ahead. Before we get into planning mode, we take a few minutes to write up a short list of small wins from the past week.

The Anytime Done List. If you find yourself feeling stuck or overwhelmed at work or in life, try an in-the-moment practice to recalibrate. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and write down everything you’ve finished in the past week or month. You’ll be surprised at how much lands on the paper.


“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

— Albus Dumbledore