Check it off!


August 12, 2014

One of the best tools for staying organized, being effective, controlling your time, and getting done what you need to do is a CHECKLIST. Yet, I run into it often that many do not use checklists.


Why do people not use checklists? Many feel the routine things are just that and do not require a systemized approach. Many feel it impedes their creativity. Many just do not do it. Over the years one of the things I have discovered is that the deeper you get into something, the more you realize there is to do. The more you have to remember. The more you will forget because you are focused on something else or another aspect of what you are working on.


The value of checklists cannot be ignored. First, it helps you focus on what needs to be done. It is a reminder. It may be a list of the routine. And even more important is that when using a checklist and you check off a completed item, science tells us that it sends endorphins to our brains and makes us feel good/better. And we all know that when we feel better our attitudes, enjoyment and happiness is enhanced.


I utilize 5 active checklists that have helped me tremendously over the years. They are my organizational/operational checklist, my close the week checklist, my car binder checklist, my client to do checklist, and my menu to do list.


The first and probably the most important is the basic organizational/operational checklist that I use every day. This is for the routine and to ensure I do not forget the routine. The list contains 24 daily checklist items that I choose to ensure I do every day, broken down into morning and end of day activities. Morning includes such things as: Health, mindset, reviewing my 90 day plan, looking at my calendar for the day, and setting alarms for the day to ensure I do not miss a meeting. The end of day portion is completed when I return to my home office to ensure I finish today, today. This section includes: Voice mail, preparing for tomorrow, calendar for tomorrow, reviewing what has been deposited into my bank account), recapping coaching sessions, putting notes I made onto my client to do list and/or my to do menu, sending information packets to those that I have made appointments to meet, thank you notes, email, filing, self-development, health and close the day.


To elaborate on some of these: Health is listed in the morning and evening because I need to ensure I did not miss vitamins, supplements, etc., stretching, and exercise. Mindset includes listening to music that pumps me up and reciting my “I am” statements. Reviewing my 90 day plan helps me stay focused on my goals and strategies. Preparing for tomorrow is simply packing needed materials, electronic devices that I need for the next day. I prepare for almost all meetings the week before when I close out the previous week. Recapping coaching sessions as soon as possible after the meetings is important to ensure my notes are complete and my actions as well as my clients are clear.


90% of the time I only look at email at the end of the day. If it is that important, people will call. This way I only open an email once and deal with it. Since it is the end of the day, I do not need to look at email in the morning. When time permits between meetings I may glance at emails during the day.


To be clear, some days the checklist is not 100% executed. Some things like filing may carry over to another day, but will definitely be completed at the close of the week.


Do you have an operational checklist of the routine? Should you?