I met you as a youngster,
introduced by my mother.
Integrated into my life,
you organized like no other.
You guided me as I packed for camp,
supporting me as I roamed.
And when preparing to return,
made sure my belongings came back home.
When teachers assigned schoolwork,
you recorded tasks and dates.
Providing a visual reminder,
assignments were never late.
As the years passed and I grew up,
you remained part of my day.
Shopping, holidays, weekend chores,
you continually kept chaos at bay.
I love the way you collect my thoughts,
draining stress from my mind.
But my favorite part is earning the right
to check the box on each line.
With you by my side,
I am my best me.
Others can’t help but notice,
my organization and productivity.
I love checklists!
Maybe it’s my type-A personality, but breaking large projects into achievable tasks provides a sense of control and order. The boxes allow me to visualize my progress with each additional check, increasing motivation with a feeling of accomplishment.
I work from checklists every day. I so enjoy earning a check mark that if I complete a task I had not recorded on my list, I will quickly scribe it simply to bask in the satisfaction off placing a check in the box.
I’ve got the family hooked on checklists, as well. Our weekly calendar meetings result in each member of the family updating a to-do list of necessary jobs for the week. It’s our way of ensuring we know who is responsible for what during our busy week.
Long Tradition of Efficiency
Checklists are not a new idea. Benjamin Franklin recorded his daily to-do list from the 1700’s in his autobiography.
How fun is that?
The fact that people still rely on checklists for organization, delegation, productivity, and task completion serves as a testament to the value of this simple act.
For the nay-sayers who claim lists don’t work, I encourage you to try again. You simply haven’t found your groove yet. Effective checklists break large projects into manageable bits, making the project seem less daunting. Scheduling when to complete the smaller tasks ensures projects are completed on time.
Gina Trapani shares some tips for how to get started writing to-do lists that actually get done in this short video.
My Favorite Checklist Tip
One of my favorite things to do to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks is to use my notepad calendar to write down to-do’s on the day I need to follow-up or complete the next step.
For example, if I order an item that will be shipped, I locate the date for the final day of the shipping window and write, “Has my Amazon package arrived? Order #”.
If I am supposed to call in three months to schedule an appointment, I identify a date three months in the future and write, “Schedule next appointment with Dr. So-and-so”. (cool name, huh?) Then I record the phone number. I complete the task more efficiently by not wasting time looking up the number on the day I need it.
Creating future to-do’s helps me stay on top of things and follow-up with others in a timely fashion. Getting to make the check in the box is an added bonus. I love making “checks” in the check boxes! With fun colored pens!
Read the Book!
I would be remiss not to mention Atul Gawande’s bestseller, The Checklist Manifesto. Gawande’s engaging read touts using checklists as quality control guides for repetitive procedures. Through storytelling and examples, Gawande convincingly sings the praises of well-crafted checklists.
“A good checklist is precise, efficient, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations.”
– Atul Gawande, MD
In short …
- Write things down.
- Schedule a time to complete your tasks.
- Make progress.
- And, most importantly, check things off your list.
- Fun colored pens are optional.
Share your favorite list-making tip or your own personal ode to your checklist in the comments section.
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