So what good is it?
Truth is, a checklist can actually help boost your productivity if you use it correctly. Let’s take a look at some of the best guidelines for getting the most out of your checklists:
Plan out everything beforehand. A checklist will only work if it's there to use as a road map. If you haven’t done it ahead of time, it should be the first thing you do when you sit down to work. It can also be useful to make your “to do” checklist span over several days, weeks, or even the month. Whatever your time frame is, take the few minutes to create your list before you begin so you can actually use it to guide your work and get the reward of checking things off.
Add to it immediately. As soon as something new comes up, stop and add it to your list. You can’t check things off and feel successful or productive if they aren’t there to cross off. Part of this method working is receiving the satisfaction of crossing it off the list and knowing you’ve completed it. So keep your list up to date!
Include deadlines. Speaking of dates, make them part of your checklist. Keeping the due date right next to the task helps you prioritize what needs to be done and keep moving forward. It also gives you an easy and fast way to keep track of everything. This type of organization gives you more time to work productively and also assures you don’t miss things.
Make it somewhere obvious. If you don’t look at it the checklist will go to waste. Keep it somewhere super obvious where you will look at it often. This could be on a notepad on your desk, right next to where you are—on your phone, computer, or tablet that you do your work on and check frequently—in your schedule or day planner where you look at all of your appointments and meetings regularly. If it’s obvious to you, it will work.
Break down bigger tasks. This will keep you more on track. If a big project has one deadline two months down the road and you write it down now, you’re bound to forget about it. But if you section it out into parts and include those on your checklist, you will get more satisfaction from checking off each step. This concept is also important for your list as a whole. Looking at one long list for the month is daunting. So break that down into smaller chunks as well. Write out a short list for one or two days, then regroup and write up another when the first one is completed. You’ll be able to focus on the now while still staying on schedule for what’s ahead later!