My secret to remembering my achievements — write them down

Since starting 5th Grade in Portugal in the 90s, I dread self-evaluations. To this day, every time, I feel I minimise (or just forget!) my achievements—and never guess what “bad stuff” I did (I’ve heard everything, from the classic “be less aggressive” to “eat lunch with your mates” and “learn to let go”).

Blogging and keeping to-do lists makes things a little bit easier, as I can go back and remember what I’ve done for the past 6–12 months by glancing at articles and notes. But it always feels rushed and like I’m missing the bigger picture.

So I’ve started writing down my achievements and advise anyone that feels similarly about performance reviews to do the same.

How I keep track of achievements

I keep a note on Simplenote with the title “Achievements”. Then once every few days, usually at the start/end of the week, I write down what I’ve done. I divide the list in quarters (Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, etc.), so it’s easier to scan.

I don’t write down every little task, but things like small projects that I helped complete, that I did on my own, or that I championed.

I also write down achievements that I expect to complete within the next few months — things that will make me happy and good to do, and things that will have a positive impact on my team and my company. It’s good to have this regular reminder of what I think it’s important, as we can easily get distracted and lose focus on our day to day.

Since I’ve started doing this I’m surprised at how much I have achieved (not what I have “done” or “delivered”). I’m certain I would forget many items on my list if I had to think about it while looking at a blank performance evaluation form.

Try it, and tell me if it works for you too.