Have I mentioned recently that I love checklists?  Well, I do!!!  (For many of the reasons why, please check out these other posts on the value of creating a utilizing a checklist.)

First, for what activities should you create a checklist?  Just about anything that recurs and has multiple steps. For example …

  • Create a dinner party
  • Plan a work event
  • Prepare for vacation
  • Sign on a new client
  • Back-to-school shopping for the kids

Often, clients will ask, “When should I create a checklist?”  Which is quickly followed by, “I just don’t know how I’m going to find the time.”

I agree – in a day filled with tasks, taking time to plan can be difficult.  Especially when the checklist you are considering creating doesn’t seem “urgent”, and everything else on your schedule is.  (By the way, if you are working day-to-day where every day seems urgent, we need to chat!  It’s complimentary and you CAN reduce that stress!)

Anyway, back to the point of this blog.

Taking a moment to create a checklist at the start of the project IS a great idea.  It helps to clarify your thoughts, outline your steps, identify resources.  However, it probably isn’t realistic.  In which case, create the checklist as you go – make note of each step along the way.

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For example, as one of my leadership activities with an organization I volunteer for, we planned a half-day educational event.  The speaker was flying in from out of state.  We had PR opportunities, sponsors, food, etc., etc., etc.  A lot of moving parts.

Plus, this organization had not hosted an event of this magnitude before – so we weren’t drawing on previous experience.

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Following a checklist would have been great.  HOWEVER, we didn’t know what we didn’t know, so we weren’t sure what to put on it.  So instead, our plan was to jump in, keep track of the tasks we did complete, and create a checklist to use for our next event.

For each committee meeting, we adapted and adjusted our checklist.  “Next time we will start marketing to potential vendors a month earlier.” We added “Remember to check the construction routes when picking the speaker up at the airport” to our list.

Then, after the event, the full committee met for a debrief.  We asked, “What were the pieces of this event that went really well that we want to make sure we implement next time?”  “What could we do better?”  “Do we want to adapt the time line?”  You get the idea.  (As a special bonus – here is our checklist: Master Event Checklist!  I’m giving you permission to adapt this for your use!)

Now we have a framework to follow for our next event.  Thank goodness, since the attendance goal for this event is triple!  By the way, if you live in the Northeast Ohio area, I’m personally inviting you to our Healthy Women Succeed Women’s Wellness Event on October 20, 2015! Learn to manage multiple priorities, tame stress, and live the best life possible.

What about you?  When do you use a checklist?  What strategies have you found most useful?  Please post below.

And if you find yourself struggling with structure, it’s a great time to call in some help! A little coaching might get you started.

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(image by iosphere)