Instead of “to-dos” make a list of “dones”

In the ever-changing nonprofit world, it’s easy to get caught up in the never-ending cycle of to-do lists. As a natural listmaker, I know I’m always busy making my lists throughout the year. So it’s nice to instead set aside time to reflect on what was accomplished, instead of what needs to be done.

The psychology of tracking achievement

Research in positive psychology shows that acknowledging accomplishments can significantly boost motivation. By consciously recording and reviewing successes, a positive feedback loop is created that encourages further achievement.

Just like habit tracking, tracking accomplishments can be a powerful motoivator and amplify your goals.

The art of reflection

To make the most of your “done” list, it’s best to have a system. I track my achievements by keeping a running list of “monthly highlights.” Specifically, I track client and sales growth, the number of leads or prospects, press mentions, and events I participate in. This helps me stay focused on my goals throughout the year.

I also note “Success Stories”—positive feedback and project outcomes or other accomplishments that can be shared with clients, in marketing outreach, or used as personal inspiration throughout the year.

Here are some ways to create regular reflection time:

  1. Set a time to reflect: While annual and mid-year reviews are common, consider monthly or even weekly reflection sessions.
  2. Ask questions: For each accomplishment, ask yourself what you learned, how it aligns with your organization’s goals, and how you can build upon it.
  3. Celebrate small wins: Don’t overlook minor achievements as they can lead to bigger successes.

How to start tracking “dones”

Tracking accomplishments is not difficult, but some preparation helps to make it easy to maintain.

  1. Create a few easily quantifiable categories that relate to your organization’s goals: Some ideas are increase in donors or members, increase in funds raised or attendance at events, increase in social media reach, or number of press mentions.
  2. Decide how often you will update the document: I like to update mine monthly so key deyails are not overlooked or forgotten, but quarterly is also an optoin.
  3. Create a doc that can be easily updated: Evernote, Google Drive, and Notion are all easy to use and can be shared with your team if needed.

Leveraging achievements

The beauty of the “done” list doesnt end at the warm, fuzzy feeling. Once you have all that good stuff written down, it can be used as reference for marketing materials, content marketing and website. Here are some ideas:

  • Increased your membership by 20%? Share it on your membership brochure to inspire new members to join.
  • Great turnout at your gala? Share it on social media to encourage potential donors, attendees, and local media to support future events.

Clients, supporters and prospective partners love to hear about how your organization is making a difference.

Tracking achievements is not just a feel-good exercise: it’s a useful resource for motivation, goal-setting and self-promotion.

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