Checklists are great tools to help us stay on track with many things. I have always used checklists to make sure everything was completed and to validate I did not miss out on something.
I see the checklist as one of the simplest tools that signals that there is a process in place. I am a big fan of processes although sticking with them is something I struggle with.
Keeping them simple
Every time you create a checklist you add tasks to whatever process you are trying to accomplish. The biggest problem that what might have started as a simple checklist can become a huge monster and something that instead of making the process more efficient or effective it does neither. Stay away from complicating a simple process.
I use different types of checklists to handle my daily tasks. One of the checklists tools I use is Things that synchronizes on my Mac, iPod, and iPad. This way I can keep track of everything that is going on and create tasks on any of my devices (which I have at hand and ready to take notes and jot down more tasks). In the office I also make post it notes which I post all over my walls in different places depending on where the task should go.
When I don’t have my post it notes or I am out of the office I might also use a small notepad. Other than investing in Things software I have to say that the other tools are very inexpensive to acquire.
Easy to Understand
Where I think most checklists fail is when you really don’t have a clear idea of how to execute them. If you follow our first point of keeping it simple then it is easier to implement and have other team members follow your lead. Then if you can all use a similar system it makes it easier for getting team goals accomplished.
Tools for a Team
If you are working as a team there are many ways to keep checklists going some people use Google doc’s, email, or project management software. If you have a complex project using software like Podio might help you keep and assign tasks to other team members. Podio is free up to 25 users per project. If you are running a small and simple project Podio might be a bit of overkill so keep in mind that when you choose a tool it is suppose to improve and speed up the process. If the tool takes more time without enhancing the process you really should consider another option.
Checklists can be the simplest form of making sure you accomplish something but if not used consistently can be a waste of time and useless.
Why do you create checklists? How do you manage them?
What things have you found that make checklists useful or useless over time?