Checklists — I just love ’em!
In my life, they take any number of formats. I’ve got my daily to-do list front and center in my planner. I’ve got a ready-to-print list of things to pack when I travel. My husband and I routinely make a big list of things to tackle when we’re hosting an event. Heck, I’ve even got a checklist I used to create this blog post.
You probably know that checklists for kids are incredibly popular. Kids love them, and moms love them too! They’re a superb way to keep your kid on task and motivate him.
Consider those kiddie chore charts that act as graphic checklists for each day’s must-do tasks. Each day features colorful images instructing a child to make his bed, brush his teeth, put away his pajamas, and more. And once he completes a task, he enjoys the most awesome part of the process — placing a congratulatory sticker or perky magnet next to the task.
That internal motivation? That excitement over finishing an action step? That pride in a job well done? Even that sticker if you want it! That can all be yours with a checklist.
If you hate the idea of committing yourself to a checklist, or if you’ve only thought to apply checklists to a couple of areas in your life, check this out. I’ve got 7 big ways that a checklist can not just improve but revolutionize your life!
1. Go on autopilot.
Are you tired? (I see you, fellow moms of young kids!) Do you have a million things on your plate? Is your brain just bursting with everything you’re trying not to forget?
If so, the humble checklist is a godsend. It transitions your success from relying on active thought to easily following a pre-written set of directions.
When you’re 95% unconscious and running late in the morning, a going-out-the-door checklist will keep you from forgetting your kid’s lunch and that thing you absolutely must mail today. The magic is that you create your checklist during one of those (potentially rare!) moments when you’re uninterrupted, focused, and thinking at your best.
It’s like having your best self there in the morning to tell your sleepy self exactly what to do.Have your best self there to tell your sleepy self exactly what to do.Click To Tweet
2. Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
It is stressful to try to remember a laundry list of things you need to do. Not to mention the fact that it’s usually an exercise in futility.
Plus, it’s entirely possible that attempting to keep everything organized in your head will make you act more than a little nutty! You start to raise eyebrows while muttering to yourself, or you go into full panic mode when you’re convinced there’s something you’re forgetting.
Using a checklist lets you lose the crazy.
Once you relocate the contents of your brain to a piece of paper you can easily reference, you’ve effectively freed your mind. Now, instead of acting simply as a less-than-perfect storage device, it can do what it does best — focus on the moment and on enjoyable, creative, and productive activities.
3. Forestall disaster.
Sometimes a checklist is exactly what you need to prevent someone else from running into trouble that you already know to avoid:
- A bedtime routine checklist for your baby-sitter might include reading a story, hugging a favorite stuffed animal, and singing a special song. (Goodness knows, my toddler is very attached to his routine!)
- A new hire on-boarding checklist for your business can ensure that you have all of your administrative and legal bases covered without having to hand-hold the new guy through the orientation process.
- A household maintenance checklist spells out exactly what tasks are needed (and how often) in order to keep your house clean and running smoothly.
- A bill-paying checklist lists out every bill you need to pay over the year, preventing you from running into unnecessary overdue fees and credit problems.
4. Supercharge your productivity.
You know what’s an intensely inefficient way to pack for a trip? Wandering your home in an effort to spot the things you’ll need to take. Or sitting down and miming your way through your entire day to figure out which items and products you typically use.
Skip those time-consuming (and goofy-looking!) steps entirely. Just reference your checklist. You’ll be packed and ready to go in no time.
5. Make delegation easy.
If you and only you are the person who knows what’s involved in cleaning your family bathroom, you’re in a bad place. It could be that you wind up being the unlucky lady perpetually relegated to bathroom cleaning duty.
Or it could be that your husband or kids do the cleaning but need you to inspect, point out what was missed, and have them attack another area of cleaning. (That’s fun for exactly zero people.)
Checklists are perfect for delegating!
If you have a bathroom cleaning checklist, it’s easy to hand it off to another person, make sure that person understands each item on the list, and then let him or her tackle the project. You’ll both be happy knowing that the cleaning task is done consistently and without any nagging.
6. Track your progress . . . and know when you’re finished!
Your guests are coming over soon. You’re taking a professional exam in a month. You’re gathering last year’s documents in preparation for tax time.
Are you done? Are you almost ready? How on earth do you know?
With a checklist for your project, you know exactly what needs to be done in order to be totally prepared. You always have a clear sense of how far you’ve come, how much remains, and when you’re 100% finished!
7. Enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.
If you complete Step 1 of a big project or finish it entirely, does the world give you a standing ovation?
Probably not. Bummer.
Instead, your achievement goes quietly and unsatisfyingly unnoticed. And it’s easy to forget when you’re mid-stream just how far you’ve come.
A checklist, however, reflects your accomplishments back to you. There’s something deeply gratifying about putting an “X” next to Step 1 of a project you’ve been meaning to get started forever . . . or about checking off that very last step that tells you that you’ve reached your goal.
A checklist gives you the opportunity to see, track, and celebrate your achievements – no matter how small.
Once you get started using checklists, well, you may get ever so slightly addicted to them! The next time you need to take a project or maximize your productivity, create a custom checklist! (If you’re really excited about it, you might whip out a laminator to memorialize your checklist brilliance!) You’ll set yourself up for an amazing life.
What kind of checklists are invaluable in your life?
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