When you dive into a task or new project, how do you start?
I’d not really thought about it until working with staffers who were struggling with how to plan for an event that was either new to them or new to the organization.
When I suggested they use a checklist and then followed up by asking to see said checklist, I got blank stares and shifting of feet. Heads would hang and hands would wring. Cries of, “What is a checklist?” “How do I start?” and “How do I use it?” filled the air.
A checklist is simply a list of things you gotta do. If you want to exceed expectations, a great checklist also contains the due date for each item and who is responsible for doing it. For teammates, it’s a way to communicate with each other. For supervisors, it’s most excellent in keeping track of your staffers’ progress.
I’m not sure why this is a new concept or even a foreign one. So I’ll keep my smarty-mouth comments to myself and instead offer some guidance on how to make a checklist.
- Gaze raptly at a blank sheet of paper, hard copy or on screen.
- Start writing down all the things you have to do for your project, event, meeting, whatever. Don’t worry if you forget something, you can count on someone to remind you by the time you reach step #7.
- Rearrange the items so that they fall in order of what needs to happen first, second, third and so on.
- It’s okay to categorize tasks or put them into subsets. Use color or bold and italics. Hey, it’s your list.
- Put in deadlines or due dates.
- Assign people to the tasks.
- Show off your fancy work, you’re a corporate super star. Use the list with your board, staff and volunteers as a way to chart progress.
- Change the checklist as you go. It’s a living document.
- Your living document needs air – pull it out or open it up every time you work on your project, event, meeting, whatever. Keep it up to date.
- Reward yourself with a piece of chocolate when you complete a task on the list. Now you know why I really like checklists.
Key things to remember about checklists (some people call this an executive summary): Just start, darn it. You’re in charge. The list will change every time you use it and that’s okay. Share it.
There are some great resources out there for checklists.
The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.