I Done This is pleased to announce our newest addition to the team: Ben Franklin, or, as we call him, Benji. He will be assuming the role of in-house personal productivity expert and is super excited to be sharing his insights.
My main accomplishments have been in the fields of technology and innovation, although when I dabbled in politics I did help draft the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, earning me that “founding father” title. I also have 9 honorary degrees and have held 16 public offices. In case you’ve never seen one, my face has also been put on the hundred dollar bill.
What can I say— personal productivity just comes easy to me. But it wasn’t always that way. I’ve spent years developing the best method for personal productivity. And I’m about to let you in on my secret.
My worst invention: the to-do list
My biggest regret in life is my invention of the to-do list.
The to-do list certainly seemed like a great idea at first—it was a friendly reminder of everything I needed to get done. But this invention has done far more harm than good. Not only does jotting your goals down do nothing to help you achieve them— but staring at a list of things you failed to accomplish has detrimental effects on your psyche.
Every day, millions of people feel like failures because they aren’t completing all the tasks on their to-do list. My demotivating list has likely cost the world hundreds, maybe even thousands of brilliant inventions—all because some of the best minds have felt too discouraged by their to-do lists to make any progress.
Naturally, I feel incredibly guilty and personally responsible for all these failures. So I have decided to dedicate my life to righting this wrong, and to helping other people get things done. This is precisely why I’ve accepted this job offer from I Done This.
My approach to personal productivity
The personal productivity hack I failed to mention to all those people using my to-do list technique was the very thing that actually enabled me to achieve my aspirations (oops!).
At the end of every evening I answer this one question: “What good have I done today?” I’m suspicious that this is where I Done This got their “dones” idea, but I can’t be sure. Either way, it’s brilliant.
I came up with this strategy when I took on one of the most ambitious undertakings of my life: my plan for attaining moral perfection. At first, I just added “be more moral” to my to-do list. But between my demanding printing job and my exercise routines, I barely had time to even think about achieving this goal. I just felt bad every time I looked at my list.
So I broke up my very lofty goal into small parts—13 virtues that I wanted to attain. I decided to dedicate one week to each virtue, and made up a chart to keep track of my progress. But when I had fallen behind within the first few days, I again began to feel really crappy about myself.
Despite having recently invented a new printing press and having taught myself advanced mathematics, I felt like a huge failure because I couldn’t attain my first virtue. Then, one evening, a notion struck me: I was letting what I hadn’t accomplished get me down, when I should be using what I had accomplished drive me. Turns out, all I needed to motivate myself was a shift in perspective.
Why I focus on my dones
The folks at I Done This have really hit the nail on the head by underlining the importance of recognizing your achievements. I couldn’t possibly motivate myself to change the world as we know it, if I wasn’t inspired by the fact that I already have…several times!
Take a look at how my life’s to-do list compares with my Done list, and tell me which is more likely to motivate me to make progress toward my goals.
|Done List:||To-Do List:|
|Name the Gulf Stream||Get rid of the letters C, Q, and W from the English alphabet|
|Invent bifocals||Invent a more humane way to kill turkeys (by electroshock perhaps)|
|Convince everyone that Daylight Savings is a good idea||Achieve moral perfection|
|Co-author The Declaration of Independence|
If every day I looked only at my ambitious to-do list, I would never have achieved anything. I would be weighed down by the very thought of such a huge undertaking. Instead, I focus on the monumental achievements that I have already accomplished. This gives me the confidence to start tackling even loftier aspirations in my to-do list.
My promise to you
I joined I Done This to give people someone to look up to. Whenever you feel like you can’t get anything done, just look at me! I went from being a soap-maker to being a rich and successful inventor—all because I focused on my dones rather than my to-do’s.
And I’ll be more than happy to assist you along the way. Together, we’ll come up with some of the best personal productivity strategies to keep you from falling short of achieving even your loftiest goals.