The Magical Reverse Checklist


The Magical Reverse Checklist - Ursula's Journal

Oh come on! How in the world did I spend the whole day working, and now the end of the day looks exactly like it did at the start of the day? Dishes still in the sink, carpet still looks like it hasn’t been vacuumed, projects still half done. It feels like I went through the day and did nothing. For that matter, I can’t for the life of me remember what I spent all day doing. I know I worked, I’m exhausted (with apparently nothing to show for it).

It’s enough to make you want to curse…and I have the cleanest vocabulary you’ve ever heard.

Forget that! One day I’d had enough. I was tired of feeling daily like I failed at doing my job. I was sick of explaining to my husband that most of my tasks renew themselves (not that he asked, or minded)…I can do the dishes, but they don’t stay clean. I can wash and fold laundry, but there will be more tomorrow. It just doesn’t end, and there are too many jobs to accomplish, many being cyclical tasks. Not to mention the other important projects beside the daily grind work, so at the end of the day the house may not be the picture of cleanliness even though you spent all day working. Ugh!

So one late afternoon, when the house was looking particularly messy, I grabbed a piece of paper, and just started jotting.

The Magical Reverse Checklist - Ursula's Journal - HMC


Check box: Clean the kitchen (1 hr)

Check box: Wash & fold laundry (active time 2 hrs)

Check box: Homeschool the kids. (active time 3 hrs, passive time +3 hrs)

Check box: Cook lunch (30 mins)

Check box: Help the kids with their piano practice (passive time 30 mins)

Check box: Organize the plastics pantry. (30 mins)

Check box: Fix the broken light fixture (rewire) (1 hr)

Check box: Scrub finger prints off a wall (30 mins)

Check box: Make dinner (30 mins)

Check box… well you get it. I essentially wrote down everything I could remember doing that day with how much time each task took.

Then with joy and gleeful abandon, I proceeded to ceremoniously (and with great flourish, I might add), check off every single box!

The Magical Reverse Checklist - Home Made by Carmona

Then with joy and gleeful abandon, I proceeded to ceremoniously (and with great flourish, I might add), check off every single box!

I might have also exclaimed “who’s BOSS?” with every item I checked, but I cannot either confirm or deny such crazy action.

Then as the husband came home and settled down with a tired sigh onto the couch and asked “how was your day? Mine was exhausting!”. I also gave a long (somewhat exaggerated) sigh, and cool as a cucumber handed him my checklist. “Yeah, I’m exhausted too. Sadly, this is all I managed to get done today”. His eyes opened wide. “Wow! That is a lot of hours, plus you accomplished everything on your list! Impressive”. I put my head on his shoulder, “Thanks hon. It was hard work. It took some serious management, and as you can see the house is still kind of messy, so I had to really focus on the important projects at hand. Well, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get all I have to do accomplished! I think I’ll finally take a break now”. A genuinely happy smile spread across my face…I actually had gotten a lot done.

That’s right. Who’s the boss? 😀

Magical To-do list - Ursula's Journal

Yeah okay, so I confess it isn’t exactly a solution. I’m still taking steps to learn better time management, and how to work smarter, not harder. But the idea of writing a checklist of the things you have already accomplished at the end of the day can be very helpful. You’ll be able to see where you are spending your time, analyze what can be delegated, what can be streamlined, and see just how much you really do accomplish. This is the perfect first step to better time management. Do this for a week, and then make a reasonable plan based on a slight tweaking of your current habits. I’m in the process of doing this myself, and boy, the reverse checklist really does help me see the bigger picture (and feel a lot better about myself too!).

You should try it sometime. The reverse checklist. It’s magical I tell you!



10 Comments on The Magical Reverse Checklist

  1. Cathy
    October 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm (4 years ago)

    Love it, love it, love it…I’m adopting this now! Well done!

  2. Sue Castanien
    April 19, 2016 at 2:50 pm (5 years ago)

    What a great idea! We all have those days where we are busy all day long but the house doesn’t look any better. Making a reverse “to do” list is confirmation that we have been hard at work.

  3. Abigail Doyle
    February 23, 2016 at 6:13 pm (5 years ago)

    This is a great way to not feel like you haven’t done anything you planned. Sometimes your game plan changes entirely and when you look back at all the unfinished tasks for the day, it’s so overwhelmingly depressing. Thanks for this!

  4. Ashley
    February 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm (5 years ago)

    Me toooo! Thank you for this. I feel like this almost every…single…day. Sometimes I blame being on my phone doing even constructive things which is true. But I could make a reverse list for that to. Ie….Ur. Scheduling babysitter, weekly tasks, devotions, emptying email or photos, finding a recipe for dinner…it never ends. Thanks for the encouragement I’m a work in progress. When u figure out great time/task managing I’ll be all over that task!:)

    • Ursula Carmona
      February 23, 2016 at 7:44 pm (5 years ago)

      So true! Just because our tasks occur on a computer or phone doesn’t mean they weren’t important! 😉

  5. Lisa Powell
    February 20, 2016 at 1:01 am (5 years ago)

    Oh my gosh did this ever resonate with me!! I beat myself up daily for not really accomplishing anything but feeling busy all day…I’m so excited to start my reverse checklist tomorrow! Thanks for the fabulous idea!

  6. Alexis
    February 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm (5 years ago)

    I love this! Checking those boxes is such a good feeling.

  7. Kara {Miss Frugal Fancy Pants}
    February 19, 2016 at 9:59 am (5 years ago)

    This is brilliant! Trick yourself and learn from it? Yes, please. And it would certainly help avoid a typical hot button for me…”what’s your plan for the day?” Too many little things to list in a quick conversation and the alternative makes it sound like you have zero plans to be productive. I’m gonna do this and just hand over the previous day’s list and say “more of this.” Lol!

  8. Stephanie @ Casa Watkins
    February 18, 2016 at 6:06 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m going to have to try this and fast! My husband leaves in the morning and comes back in the evening to the exact same setting. I tell him, “Yes, babe I actually did do stuff today…hahaha”

  9. Veronica
    February 18, 2016 at 8:54 am (5 years ago)

    An excellent plan to see what you really do! Congratulations on rewarding yourself for lots of work well done, and turning around the perception that you’d not “done” anything.


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