Why I Keep a Done List (And How It Works)

Being a full-time employee, a part-time student, and a part-time blogger, I have to find ways to keep track of everything I need to do… and everything I’ve done. That’s why I keep a done list.

What’s a done list? I’m glad you asked.

Done List

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What is a done list?

A done list is the opposite of a to-do list. Instead of writing down all of the things you need to accomplish, you write down all of the things you’ve already done. There are several ways you can keep a done list (and I’ll share a few of them), but first, I’m going to tell you why I keep one.

Why do I keep a done list?

There are three main reasons:

To know if/when I accomplished something

So… my memory isn’t exactly stellar. I forget things all the time, including when (or even if) I’ve already done something.

In my current role at work, I tend to have a lot of little tasks every day. There’s no way I could remember them all. Having a done list makes it so easy to be able to answer questions like, “Hey, did you call Mr. So-and-so?” Or “When did you mail that letter?”

My done list has definitely saved me from saying “I don’t remember” quite a few times.

To help me update my resume

When you’re in a position for longer than a year, there may be projects that come and go. After a while, you just sort of forget about them. But those projects could be perfect for including on your resume.

Every time I update my resume, I look back through my done list to see if there are any relevant tasks to add.

To encourage myself

This is the most important reason.

To-do lists are constant reminders of all the things you still need to do, and they can be stress- inducing at times. But a done list is like a pat on the back. It’s like saying “Good job, me! Look how much I’ve done today.”

I love being able to look back at my done list and feel proud of the things I’ve accomplished. It’s the perfect way to stay motivated a work.

How do I keep a done list?

First, there are two main methods you can use: (1) you can start with a to-do list and then move each item to your done list when it’s accomplished or (2) you can simply write down tasks as they’re finished. I, personally, start with a to-do list, but the following options will all work for either method.

OneNote (or EverNote)

OneNote is the platform I use for my professional and blog lists. I start by creating a page for my to-do list and a page for my done list.

My to-do list is organized using the following categories:

Urgent and important
Urgent and not important
Not urgent and important
Not urgent and not important

My done list is organized by date. I find it helpful to know what I accomplished each day. For work, I also write my hours next to the dates on my done list to make completing my timesheet at at the end of every two weeks much easier.

Once I’ve accomplished something on my to-do list, I simply copy and paste it onto my done list.

I’ve been using this method for about 5 years now and I still love it!


Trello is the best of all things productivity.

When we were planning our wedding last year, my husband and I used Trello to keep track of everything we needed to do. It made every part of the process so much easier.

We created one board with separate lists for each month leading up to the wedding. On each list, we included everything that needed to be done that month, along with any notes about each task.

We also created a done list, and, when we finished each task, we would simply drag it over. By the time the wedding came, we had a very long done list.

Please don’t think that Trello should only be used for planning weddings. It is also a very effective platform for personal to-do lists or really any list at all. If you’ve never used Trello, I would highly recommend checking it out.

Related: How to Organize Your Month with Trello

Bullet Journal

The last system (and my personal favorite) is the bullet journal. I keep all of my personal to-do and done lists in my bullet journal.

The best part about the bullet journal system is that it naturally creates done lists. Every time you mark a task as done, it automatically becomes part of the done list in your bullet journal.

(P.S. For Christmas, my husband gifted me with this beauty and I’m hoping to share a post soon about how I use it to accomplish my goals.)

If you don’t follow the bullet journal system, but still keep a notebook or journal, you can simply write down tasks as you finish them. In this case, I would set aside certain pages to be your done list.

One Last Note

Regardless of which method or system you choose to use, try using done lists for the next couple weeks. You’ll likely be proud of all you accomplish.

P.S. This post was featured by Sierra at Check it out here: Lists to Make When You’re Anxious

Why I Keep a Done List (And How It Works)


  • Ana

    I love the concept of a done list! I use sticky notes that I move from to do over to done and it feels so good to see the to do list shrinking and the done list growing! It then motivates me to go and get more things done. How long do you keep the same list before you start fresh?

    • Mikaela Miller

      Ana, I love that you use done lists, too! How long I keep each list differs. Because I use a bullet journal for my personal list, that list just keeps going until I fill the journal. For my work lists, though, I generally keep each list for three months, because I’m evaluated on a quarterly basis. Archiving my list each quarter gives me a good opportunity to reflect on what I’ve accomplished.

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