I’m a big proponent of putting mechanisms in place so that you can free yourself from tedious (or low-value) tasks and focus on your most important (or high-impact) “To Do’s.” In my previous three posts, I talk about how systems and processes can help you make this transition; in this post, I’m going to discuss how you can individually shift your time and energy toward these high-value items.
The mechanism that I’m going to tell you about today isn’t very revolutionary. It’s not sexy. It’s not mind-blowing. But it’s VERY effective if you can stay disciplined with it. This non-revolutionary, non-sexy, and non-mind-blowing mechanism that I’m talking about is the checklist.
Not just any checklist though. I’m talking about daily checklists (at least on the days that you are working) that will remind you of the tasks that you need to do on each particular day — and because these checklists are already in place, you won’t have to spend any time or energy thinking about the routine tasks that you need to do every day. In turn, this time- and energy-saving mechanism will provide you with the opportunity to spend the time on your most important tasks.
In the video below, I talk about a simple four-step process to make the most of your daily checklists:
The four-step process to using your daily checklists effectively are:
1. Identify the platform (or document) that you want to create your daily checklists on. Pick the platform that is most convenient to you (i.e. you have easy access to it). It could be a Google Doc, pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet, etc. (I personally use an Excel spreadsheet.) You should set up a checklist for every day of the week that you want to use a checklist.
2. Identify your tasks that you do every day. There are certain tasks that you do every day (or almost every single day); identify all of them, and record these tasks on your daily checklists. For example, I input in journal entries to Quickbooks almost every day, and I update our cash flow model — and therefore, I have an action item on my daily checklists for Monday – Friday to perform this task.
3. Identify your day-specific tasks. By “day-specific” tasks, I’m talking about tasks that you only do on, let’s say, Thursdays. Perhaps you have a big client call every Thursday at 2 PM. Jot down this item on your Thursday checklist.
4. Stay disciplined and check your daily checklists every day. Once you’ve filled out your daily checklists, it’s important for you to maintain the discipline to review them every day. By doing so, you won’t have to spend much time or energy in thinking of the routine tasks that you need to do every day.
Do you use daily checklists? If you do, what tips do you have that allows you to best utilize them?