Ta-da! Swapping to-do lists for ‘ta-da’ lists

Photo of a stack of sticky notes
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I recently learned about the concept of a “ta-da” list while listening to a podcast. Apparently, a ta-da list is a fun alternative to the mundane and dreadful to-do list. Instead of starting off with a long to-do list to tackle, you reflect on what you managed to accomplish with a ta-da list. With papers, exams and recorded lectures piling up, I thought it can’t hurt to test out another productivity method, right?

I knew this would be a challenge. I’m constantly planning, double-checking and thinking about what’s next. Moreover, remote learning has made me forgetful. I usually plan my to-do list the night before or first thing in the morning. While this has been a great way for me to stay on track, it has caused some extra stress. I’m always trying to make a deadline or disappointing myself if I don’t check every box. I wanted to give this method an honest try. On a day when I had multiple classes and due dates, I didn’t grab a sticky note and instead just got to work.

Throughout the day, I noticed that I wasn’t constantly checking or crossing things off of my to-do list that usually sits on the keyboard of my laptop. I refrained from imagining my next task and instead focused on the one at hand. It took off some unnecessary pressure that I had been carrying. It surprised me when I eventually found my groove. I made it to my classes and I turned in all outstanding assignments. By the end of the day, I still managed to get a good amount of my responsibilities done, even without a list of tasks reminding me.

Now the fun part. Before going to bed, I grabbed the stack of sticky notes on my desk and wrote out my ta-da list. I jotted down which classes I attended, which assignments I completed and even which workouts I did. I also added some household chores and meal prep I managed to squeeze in. It felt good to reflect on what I had accomplished in such a short amount of time! I was using my sticky notes to celebrate myself, rather than control my day. I also got rid of some of the guilt I usually felt when I wasn’t able to check off a box.

Overall, I had a fun time writing my end-of-day ta-da list. I think it’s another way we can try and be kind to ourselves. But I did find myself missing the to-do list routine I had created for myself. While I enjoyed experimenting, I think it’d be even better to combine the two. That way, I can still keep my to-do lists to guide my day but celebrate myself with a ta-da list featuring all that I accomplished. Just like any of the trending methods to help boost productivity, it’s about finding balance and what works for you. 

Contact Marissa Boling at [email protected].