Start Your Day with a Done List

By: Marilyn L. Davis


“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.” — Lee Iacocca


But There’s Sooo Much to Do!


I know a lot of people who evaluate their progress at the end of the day. That’s all well and good, but what if you started your day with a ‘Done List’? You’re probably scratching your head, wondering what you could do before coffee. Here’s what I did before I left the bedroom:


1. Said thank you for getting up

2. Prayed for those in my God Box

3. Made my bed

4. Read the morning meditation

5. Petted Jackson, my cat

6. Sorted two loads of laundry from the hamper

7. Grabbed the laundry

8. Turned off the light

Then I went to the kitchen. Now those eight things may seem small to you, but I got all of them done – before coffee.


Don’t Just Watch the Coffee Brew


Doing those nine things, including making the coffee, allowed me to feel productive, and that was something I didn’t feel in my addiction. In fact, I can remember one time that I referred to myself as a slug. Just sitting and nodding out.

So, feeling productive, I put the coffee in the filter, and hit brew. No need to stare and wonder if it’s going to work. That laundry? Into the washing machine. And that’s something else I don’t have to watch, either. The machine knows what to do.

While coffee is brewing, I’ll check the phone for messages. Yep, three. Granddaughter, business, and an old friend. I can reply in five minutes.

Another task accomplished.


Savor the Moment


Ah, the first cup of coffee of the day. Before I sit down to the computer to check emails for From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink, I check Jackson’s food. When it’s full, he’s a happy kitty and lets me have a few uninterrupted minutes.

Then, coffee cup in hand, I sit at my desk. But before the emails, I take a moment to look outside the window and check the bird feeders. There’s something soothing about seeing the birds fed or the blue sky, or the deer that occasionally wander in the yard.

So, Jackson’s bowl is full, the birds still have about three days worth of seeds and nuts, and I can feel energized to ‘start my day.’




I have about two or three hours before I go to my day job. As the editor-in-chief at the two sites, there’s always a new submission to read or edit, stats to check, quotes that are relevant to the post, or images to find.

Sometimes those tasks don’t feel as productive as they are time-consuming without necessarily resulting in a published post. When I reduce my ‘to-do’ list to ‘publishing,’ I don’t feel like I’ve done much. But the reality is I found a great quote, edited a post, found the ‘absolutely-best-image-possible’ for the post, and got it into draft. Plus, I wrote the writer and communicated, either a need for a shorter bio or a JPG image of them.

Missions accomplished even without publishing.


The Done List


When we complete tasks, regardless of how big or small, it’s encouraging to acknowledge them. Try writing down all the things you accomplished in a day, and you might surprise yourself.

Janet Choi is the Chief Creative Officer at IDoneThis. Her simple philosophy reinforces what works for me. “The simple act of pausing to reflect and acknowledge your efforts provides valuable boosts of motivation, focus, and insight that would otherwise be lost amidst your busy day. Your done list acts as a signpost, a manifestation of all that day’s hard work”.

When you’re wondering if you’ve been productive, here are four questions to ask yourself:

1. What tasks did I finish today?

2. How did I feel when I was productive?

3. Did I use my time wisely?

4. Can I make some of these tasks part of my daily routine?


How Do I Feel When I’m Done?


Beyond finishing the tasks, we’ve also got to understand that progress is an accomplishment, too. Rather than berate myself for not publishing, I can still feel productive that I’m three-quarters of the way through the process of publishing.

That feels good.

It also means that I’ve only got to finish a quarter of the work, either tonight after my group, or in the morning after my routine tasks.

When I know what’s done, what had to wait – either due to time constraints or another person’s input, what’s waiting on me, like that load of clothes in the washing machine, or something comes up that I didn’t foresee, I still can feel productive, less stressed, and know I’ve made progress.


Progress, Productivity, and the Myth of Perfection


I’ll take a saying from my recovery support groups, “progress, not perfection.” 

Progress towards any task, goal, or work is something that we need to acknowledge. We’ve done it.

Having a sense of accomplishment is essential. I think this is probably more true for us addicts. While we can't make up time that we squandered in our use, we can make better use of our time today. Click To Tweet


What Have You Done?


Are you giving yourself credit when it’s done? I certainly hope so.


There’s one more thing you can do; that’s writing a comment on how you feel when you’ve accomplished your ‘to-do’ list, and what energizes you to keep striving for progress.

Those suggestions could give me more interesting things to add to my daily routine and get to do more.




Guest Bloggers Wanted



Your words, encouragement, and expertise can help someone who is struggling with their writing. Tips, advice, and experiences are all beneficial. 

But beyond beneficial, what about entertaining? We all need a break from all this productivity. So entertain us with a short story or poem. 



Consider a guest post today. Now that’s being productive, and once you hit that send button, you can give yourself credit for done!


  1. I do the same thing with the birds at my feeder! These are great reminders about acknowledging what we do get done and take go granted. I also liked the quotes on progress and being “done” rather than “perfect”. This article is a great tool to re-visit. I have found that making progress with my writing-even if I only bang out 80 words one day- is something and better than waiting for that “perfect” time to sit down and write thousands of words.

    • Hi, Joy. Thanks for reading, and commenting. Yes, 80 words is progress. I write daily and have never found the perfect time, mood, or inspiration. I’ll just keep feeding the birds, drink the coffee, and watch the sun come up as I click away at the keyboard. She smiles.

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