Creating effective checklists

By Tom Dowd | Apr 21, 2016

In an ironic twist on the previous chapter, I want to share the power of mindless checklists. As I was packing for a summer vacation, I was scrambling around and getting stressed over whether or not I was forgetting something. As I was digging through my junk drawer, in the back of a notebook I found last year’s list. There it was; everything I needed to bring — including a swimsuit, sunscreen, and sunglasses. The burdensome task of packing turned from a budding stressful situation to a quick to-do. I have since made a winter vacation list, and a business trip list. Each of the lists has matured and changed over time, but the basics remain the same. Routines — or doing the same thing over again with predictability—can make you a better organizer and time manager if they enhance your productivity and reduce your stress levels.

Determine what checklists and routines personally and professionally can work for you. Are there standard operating procedures that need to be made up? Are there morning opening or closing tasks that can be made holistic and easier for you to follow? What regular reference points or routines can you establish and create both personally and professionally? You might even want to establish a routine to have time each week, or even daily, for no electronic disruptions so that you can commit to doing nothing but what is in front of you. To put the last two chapters to work, you can have an appointment for today to review the specific checklist that will be used (e.g., “Use packing list to pack for vacation”).

Checklists and routines reduce unpredictability and consistently let everyone know ahead of time what is expected. If it’s a standing meeting or a common task that makes you more productive and reduces unnecessary stress, then checklists and routines can and should be implemented.

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