Do you often look back at the end of each day wondering what you have accomplished or often have to deal with multiple projects with time constraints? A simple organisational tool that can help you stay on track is a checklist. A checklist is a standardised list of required steps or list that helps you keep track of your goals.

If you have not used one before, checklists can help you organise long and short terms goals, and determine where you need to allocate time and efforts to be most productive.

Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of each task on hand? Checklists can break down larger problems into small tasks, helping you to determine what your next steps are. By breaking down tasks in a specific manner, checklists can give you more confidence to delegate activities, increasing your productivity.

A checklist can be a life-saver for those with repetitive tasks to complete. It’s often easy to miss a step or lose track of your progress, especially when processes get complicated. Checklists serve as a reminder so you don’t forget certain steps in a process and can prevent mistakes from happening. This allows you to complete repetitive tasks quickly and efficiently with fewer mistakes.

Making a list and checking it twice

Before creating checklists for just about everything, it helps to know what makes a good one. The end goal is for a checklist to help you save time in the long run.

Remember that just ticking off boxes is not the goal, instead use a checklist to build a culture of teamwork and discipline. For example, create a primary checklist outlining broader tasks that apply to the whole team and disseminate it to them. Each team member can then use your template to customize the checklist to fit their exact workflow. The best part? Checklists can be refined as you go along.

Remember that a good checklist should be precise, efficient and easy to use in the most difficult situations and should provide reminders of the most important steps. Therefore, it should be succinct and simple, as well as practical.

To-do lists are another form of checklist which allow you to keep track of all tasks since they are jotted down and kept in one place. This can be applied to various situations – for example following up with new people you meet, admin related work or financial tasks.

Writing a to-do list is also a good way to help you remember where you left off with things. Keep these to-do lists visible in your workspace while you work to remind you of tasks that you have on your plate and work towards these goals. Update these lists throughout the work day in case you get interrupted or have many projects on the go. And finally, don’t forget to update your checklist of tasks that have been completed. Checking these tasks off your list might just be the best feeling – because you can actually see progress rather than a continuous workload.

How to create a checklist

Checklists are easy to create. To start making one, here’s a checklist with some quick steps to follow:

1. Write down the steps you take while you are working on the task.

2. The next time you embark on the task, compare the steps you are taking with what you already have in the draft. If some steps are missing, add them to the draft. You might also want to remove some steps that are unnecessary.

3. Keep refining the checklist, until you have one which doesn’t require any updating.

4. Put the checklist in a place that’s easy to access and within view – it could be in your notebook or even as a post-it on your desktop.

If you’re ready to put some structure to work, use a checklist. A checklist is your backup for lapses in memory combined with the overwhelming amount of information that you may be bombarded with at work. Keep refining that checklist, and you’ll find that you’re likely to perform better, and more consistently.

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