The Completions List

Image of bar chart showing results

In order to live a happy life, you need to see yourself achieving your values on a daily, weekly, and annual basis. For this purpose, I recommend that you adopt some regular practices. The daily practice is the "3 good things" process. The annual process is an annual review, in which you write down all of your major accomplishments for the year. The weekly process is the "Completions List."

The "Completions List" is a small addition to your daily and weekly routine. You will need to keep it up to date through the week, but it's very simple. Here are the steps:

1. At the beginning of the week, make a short list of things you want to get done that week (less than 10).

2. At the same time, keep a running tally of all the items you do get done, whether they were on your original list or not.

3. Also keep track if you add new commitments, decommit, or learn something.

4. At the end of the week, check your original "to do" list and add any unfinished items to the list and label "incompletions." The completions list always far exceeds the incompletions list.

5. Finally, draw a line under all the lists, and write, "Completed, week of ______," and sign it with your full legal name.

The completions list helps you pay attention to what tasks you are actually valuing by having taken action on them (those you completed or committed to) and those tasks you are not valuing because you have not taken action on them (those you didn't complete as intended, or decommitted from).

The completion list also helps you be objective about how much you get done. And over time, it makes you more objective about how much you can get done in a week, and whether you should be adding new commitments or not.

Finally, the signature is a symbolic act. When you sign the list, you are taking full ownership of the results — good, bad, or mediocre — and giving yourself a fresh slate to start the next week.

You can see an example of this practice on one of my own weekly sheets here. The weekly sheet includes my priorities, all my benchmarks, my record of Pomodoros, and completions for a week. The completion, incompletions, etc. are on the second page.

Image of Completions List

My explanation for the value of this practice is simple: when you consciously identify your genuine values at every level, you become more likely to notice opportunities to achieve them.

The tasks which you complete are a value to you — you acted to achieve them. New commitments are also a value to you — they are important enough to get some of your time.

The tasks you don't complete are less of a value. So are your decommits. These lists are always worth examining, to see if you need to shift priorities. And if you are unhappy with your incompletions list, then look at your completions and see what you'd rather remove from that list, to make room for something else.

One last point: "Lessons Learned" doesn't have to be kept on a weekly basis with the completions. You might drop this part, or keep a list in your journal or elsewhere. But I find that it's helpful to include "lessons learned" with my completions, particularly if I'm looking for lessons around productivity. When I write my completions, or perform the weekly review, I often realize there are some lessons to draw from the experience.

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Note: I learned the "Completions Tactic" from a new-agey book, called Attracting Perfect Customers by Stacey Hall and Jan Brogniez. The book has excellent practical advice, but the explanations are based on a mystical "law of attraction."

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