In addition to my To Do list, I started making an I Did list. Will it help cure my “pandemic brain?”


I don’t know about you, but 11 months into this thing, I’m getting what I call “pandemic brain.” I forget things. I can’t juggle projects like I used to (which is a major challenge when you are a consultant balancing multiple clients). I’m just… tired. Tired in my bones. Need to take a nap at 3 p.m. kind of tired. I feel a sense of overwhelm that I have only felt during a few other extreme-high-stress times in my life. I’m doing a lot of the self care things – sleep, exercise, meditation, journaling, socially-distant time with friends, trying to eat right, etc., etc. – but the overwhelm remains. I started to feel like my To Do list was constantly hovering in my peripheral vision. Especially now, when I find it more challenging to juggle multiple projects (both in my work and home lives), I live and die by that To Do list. On the one hand, my To Do list has saved my butt more times than I can count. But on the other hand, the To Do list was starting to feel like a burden.

The I Did List

That’s when I started an I Did list. I got the idea from an article I was reading in Entrepreneur Magazine about Drew Barrymore. In addition to being an actress and producer in Hollywood, she is quite a businesswoman. In the article, she was talking about how she was struggling to get it all done:

Instead of obsession over what she hasn’t gotten to, she lists out everything she has accomplished. “We often don’t take inventory of what we’ve done — it’s very much a to-do-list kind of world,” she says. “But once in a while, make an ‘I’ve done this’ list.”

Brilliant! I have been doing it for a week, and while my To Do list hasn’t gotten any shorter, I do feel better about what I’ve accomplished in a given day. I’ve added everything to the list: Zoom calls and phone calls, grant proposals and other documents I’ve written, administrative work for my consulting practice, household chores, exercise, teaching my kid to cook a new dish, meeting with my kid’s school counselor, catching up with friends, meditating, paying bills, taking care of the car, picking up prescriptions… you name it, I list it. The first time I did an “I Did” list (as I call it), I reviewed it and said to myself “Good grief! HOW are you doing all of this in a day?!”

How my I Did list is making a difference

The I Did list is chipping away at my sense of overwhelm not because it’s making the To Do list any shorter, but because it is helping me to give myself just a little more grace. It is helping me to recognize all that I am able to do, to feel some pride, and to give myself a break. And who among us couldn’t use a little bit of that right now?

Give it a shot, and let me know how it works for you.

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