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Writing an accomplishment list and why you should do it

An accomplishment list is a writing activity that:

  • Does not take much time.
  • No one has to see, judge, or review it (other than you).
  • Holds incredible value in terms of motivation for you.

Doesn’t that sound like a great writing activity? Not only is it great, but I would argue that it is necessary to keep motivation in your work throughout the year.

Allow me to briefly elaborate.

I learned about writing an accomplishment list from my amazing colleagues’ book, 90 Days 90 Ways: Inspiration, Tips, & Strategies for Academic Writers by Dr. Goodson, Dr. Beigi, and Dr. Shirmohammadi.

An accomplishment list is basically what its name describes: A list of accomplishments. Your accomplishments.
This is how I recommend you write your accomplishment list:

  • If you keep a to-do list, journal, or calendar with activities, get those out.
  • Set your timer for 15-30 minutes.
  • Make a list of things you have accomplished.

As Goodson et al. (2020) explain, the accomplishments can include tangible items from any to-do lists, journal entries, or calendar items. The list can also include non-tangible items such as keeping cool during a challenging work meeting. The list can also include things you’ve finished or things you have made progress on.

I recommend doing this activity at least bi-annually, if not quarterly. I also recommend writing an accomplishment list if you are ever starting to feel burnt-out.

The why behind this activity is that creating “to-do” lists might be common, but stopping to reflect on what has been accomplished is rare. Reflecting on what you have accomplished, no matter how big or small, is critical for self-affirmation, reflection, and motivation.

So, how about it? As summertime sets in, take 15-30 minutes to try this fun but important writing activity. If you do, I’d love to hear how it goes! You can always reach me at

Margarita HuertaDr. Margarita Huerta’s passion is to help aspiring, established, and everything-in-between academics find joy, community, and success in their careers. With over 20 years of higher education experience, Dr. Huerta founded Real Academics to do just this.