The “To Did” List

For Parents, Leadership, Mental Health, Strategy / /

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Shani Dowell, Possip CEO and Founder, shares the importance of showing appreciation to yourself during stressful times with a “to did” list! 

Y’all. This back-to-school season honestly almost took me out. The good news is we are back in the swing like never before.  That also means we are still trying to make up for lost time with our kids and doing THE MOST!  Most sports, activities, hopes. Or maybe I am speaking for myself. 


— And on top of that COVID is still real. We have spent the past month in my house going to or from COVID cases. 
— And none of that even deals with my day job.  I love my work leading Possip, and yet it is a rigorous job. 


So I have been overwhelmed- and venting to whoever will listen (including the Possip chatbot last week). Yesterday, while venting to my cousin GroupMe chain, I had a moment of “dang!  You are doing a lot!”  In result, today, I repeated the activity. I vented about everything I had done that day- big or small. From working – to walking the dog. From picking up my daughter from Volleyball practice to helping my son do his makeup work.  And after looking at my “to did” list I was feeling a little Lizzo energy “I’ma marry me one day!”


So this post and email are to encourage all of you – no matter what your role or identity is as a parent.  Make a “to did” list and give yourself credit for all the amazing things – big and small- you are doing.


A “to did” list is a celebration of all you have accomplished or done in a day.  So often we end our day reflecting on what we DIDN’T do.  This makes us feel badly about ourselves, underestimate what we have done, and can create a vicious spiral of feeling not good enough.


Here are four ways to make your “to did” list.


Top Ten List: 

Think of 10 things you did or accomplished that day.  The list can be as general or specific as you want.  Examples include: Worked; Sent Sophia an email; Took my kids to school; Made dinner for family; Washed the dishes; Took a walk; Scheduled an appointment with a client; Supported a friend with a text. 

My guess is once you start making the list you’ll find you have a lot more than ten. But forcing yourself to list at least ten things will help you realize what you have done.



Go through your schedule for the day and write out each of the things you did.  Include meetings, little things you did (put away some laundry, responded to a text). So, you’re focusing on things you did at a high level that were scheduled, but also the small things you did in between.  Include things – even if you enjoyed them!  Did you workout?  Call your mom?  Talk to your sister?  Those are also things that you “did” that made a difference to your day and  to someone.


Who You Supported List: 

If you’re a people person you may really feel accomplished by who you’ve supported. In fact, Sometimes you forget how many people you have supported in a day.  Go through and list all the people you in some way supported that day.  Who did you show up for at a meeting?  Did you help anyone with carpool?  Who did you listen to? What did you give or offer to your friends? Parents? Kids? Partner? Team members?

Once you realize ALL the people you supported in that day – and you may also realize why you might feel so taxed and spent by the end of the day :).


4×4 List: 

A fourth strategy is anchoring in 4 areas you may care about, and creating a list of 4 things in those areas you did that day.   This will help you see the number of different areas you supported. Again, forcing yourself to list a number of things makes you spend time thinking about what you have done and accomplished.

You can choose your 4 (or you can choose to make it a 3×3, 5×4, you choose the number of columns and rows!


Work Kids Friends Fitness
Hosted event Dropped Jodi off at school Supported Russe through text Walked the dog
Met with career services office Took kids to soccer practice Celebrated Sally’s promotion on Linked In Breathed deeply
Served 20 customers Signed homework Talked with Erin at carline Got 7 hours of sleep
Signed a contract Updated transportation for today Scheduled flight to see Kamila Parked further to walk more.