Whether you’re an entrepreneur single-handedly driving your business, or a company director with a calamity of worker-bees to wrangle, setting up a checklist each day is a sure-fire way to help increase your productivity.
Some people don’t like to take the time even to sit down and write a checklist. I promise you, if you put checklists into motion each morning it will become more comfortable each day. Eventually, checklists will be the corner-stone of your organisation and productivity.
In our modern-day life, we are constantly barraged with smartphone notifications, social media, emails, phone texts… all-day all the time. These things are great for distracting us from the core things we need to accomplish each day.
I use checklists to help me focus. If I get distracted, I can go back to my checklist to remind myself of what I was doing, what I need to do, and how little time I have to get it all done.
That said, it’s important not to get overwhelmed by your checklists. Sometimes having a big list of things to do can be paralysing because we feel like it will never get done and some people don’t even know where to start with that.
To avoid getting paralysed by your checklists, here are my six checklist-writing tips!
1 – Have the same process each day for writing your checklist.
For me, it’s sitting at my desk with my tea ready, my favourite pens set up neatly on my desk and a clean sheet of paper to write on. All notifications turned off, including emails. Now is not the time for distractions. With all that in place, I’m ready to write my list.
2 – Set your checklists up at the same place through the day.
Don’t lose your checklist! It’s very frustrating, trust me, I’ve learnt the hard way. You might work from home and need to move around a lot for your tasks, so put your checklist on the fridge. Or you might have a place on your desk that is easy to see and out of the way. I have a space for my checklist right next to my desk lamp. It’s out of the way and always in the same place for me to review.
3 – Pick your priority items.
Prioritising your checklists can be done lots of ways. You might have a separate notebook for your task types, or you might use colour coding for different types of tasks. You can use a highlighter, or have different coloured pens handy.
If you like to number your tasks, you can write them all out and then write a number next to the top 3 to 5 tasks. I like to circle the number, so it stands out.
4 – Draw a checkbox next to your task.
It is so satisfying drawing a tick into that checkbox trust me! Some people also like to draw a line through the task once it’s complete. Whatever process works best for you, go for it. Remember, you can change the process later too!
A massive benefit of writing checklists is to have that moment of achievement and accomplishment when you draw that tick or line through the completed task. If you feel like your jobs are insurmountable, break things down into smaller tasks.
When you draw your line through that completed task, you will feel so much better. You’ll be motivated to keep going. It’s great for mindset!
5 – Don’t feel pressured to complete the whole checklist in one day.
I will pick the top 5 on my list because I know I can’t do everything. I’m not a magician! But the checklist is an essential tool in reviewing the things I need to get done. I might not complete everything, but I’ll have the list tomorrow, and I can go back through it or write a new list and then prioritise each day.
6 – Keep old lists handy.
It’s pretty satisfying to go back through an old list and see all the things you’ve done. It’s also a helpful tool for reminding yourself of the different steps that take up a larger task or project. So, for example, you have a project that you completed last week, and you’re going to do a similar one this week. You can go back through your checklist of things around that project to more accurately predict the work involved. It’s an excellent record for reviewing and refining your productivity.
There are a plethora of apps out there you can use on your smartphone if you’re a tech person. I like using a piece of paper. What can I say, I’m tactile.
Now go forth and conquer those checklists! Let me know how you go in the comments!