A checklist is a list of items that are checked off by the person running the checklist. So if you had to run through a bunch of things before leaving for your vacation, you’d make a checklist and get each item on its own line with an empty box next to it. When you get done with one step, you check it off.
A pilot running through a pre-flight checklist; notice each item has an empty box next to it and the pilot is moving down the list checking off items as they complete them.
Benefits of Checklists
Here are some examples of what type of checklists can do for you:
People have a bad habit of forgetting things. Even if they don’t forget something, they often neglect to follow up on it later. So if you always cross-check your lists with someone else before acting on them, then you’re more likely to prevent mistakes.
Even the most experienced professionals forget little things. If you hand-write your list so that it’s more like a guide than an order, then you’ll be able to provide better guidance. That way you can tell someone “Hey, this is what I’ve used in the past and it helped me out. Maybe it can help you too.”
Keep You Accountable.
If you choose to share your list, then you’ll naturally feel more accountable for following through with everything on it. But if you keep the list private, then no one knows how responsible (or irresponsible) you are about getting things done.
So now that we know what a checklist is and how it can be useful, here are some guidelines for making good checklists.
Good Checklist Guidelines
Keep Things Simple.
A list with complicated wording will be more difficult to understand. So if you’re not sure how well your items will stand up under scrutiny from other people, then keep them as simple as possible.
Write Them Down.
If you keep your list in your head, then it will be more difficult to remain accountable for completing the items on it. So if you’re going to rely on a checklist, then write everything down and use a system that makes sense to the people who need to access it.
Use Numbers or Symbols.
If you use numbers or symbols, then people can cross-check them easily. This is a good way to prevent mix-ups and allow the person going through the motions to easily check off completed items.
It’s a waste of time to write out everything twice on one list. So if you’re going to include something on your list, make sure you only need to mention it once. If you feel like you have to include multiple reminders for each item, then that probably means the wording needs to be simplified or reworded altogether.
Allow Room for Alternatives.
You may need more than one option depending on the situation. So if there are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing, then it’s best to include all of them rather than just one or two.
List Things in Order.
If you have a lot of items on your list, then it may be helpful to organize them by order of importance. This will help people know which tasks are most critical and which ones can wait if necessary.
Keep Them Short and Sweet.
You don’t need to include every single thing that may or may not ever come up. If you make your list too long, then you’ll end up wasting time trying to maintain it when nothing’s ever added to it. So limit yourself to just the essentials and try not to add too many things.
Where Can You Use Checklists?
Checklists can be used for just about anything. You could create a list of important phone numbers, daily chores, things you need to pack while traveling, etc. But here are some specific examples of common situations where checklists may come in handy.
It’s always good to have step-by-step instructions when baking or cooking. That way you can ensure that everything is prepared correctly and nothing gets overlooked.
Having a list of things to do when you’re busy may help you prioritize your day and accomplish more in less time. But if making such a list seems too difficult, then just create one for the next specific time when you’ll need it (e.g. next Monday).
If you’re not very handy around the house, then having a checklist of things to do can help prevent disasters and keep your home in tip-top shape.
Regardless of how well you think you know your car, it’s always best to have specific instructions for routine things like changing the oil.
Bathing a Child.
If you have kids, then this is probably familiar territory for you. You’ll want to make sure nothing gets missed or forgotten (like forgetting to wash their hair). But having specific instructions will help your child feel more comfortable and maintain proper hygiene at all times.
One great tip when making checklists is to use Venngage — an online checklist maker and known infographic maker that provides a wide range of checklist layouts for everyone. To give you an idea, here are some checklist examples from their website!
Checklists can provide you with a lot of benefits when used correctly. You’ll be more confident in your abilities, accomplish more in less time, and avoid all sorts of disasters along the way. But try to keep them short and sweet so that you don’t waste too much time managing them or trying to maintain them. So use checklists wisely and you’ll be amazed at all the things you can accomplish.
If you’re still finding it hard to make even a simple daily checklist on your own, consider using Venngage. So what are you waiting for? Make your checklist today and get ready to become productive tomorrow!
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