Oh, I love a good checklist! Just had a quick look and I have 19 lists on my phone under the reminder section. Oops. It goes from Sunday Checklist to Monthly Checklist and Do Whenever checklist. It’s crazy. But I need it, I always forget things and I truly need the reminders to keep myself productive. Now, there is also a side effect to all my checklists and I am still trying to figure out the solution for this. Pressure, overwhelm, disappointment, discomfort, just to name a few feelings that come to mind but on the flip side, it also provides accomplishment, power, clarity and relief. So, for a while now I have been trying to figure out how I can make this whole “checklist efficiency” work for me and become a productivity rockstar.
Dive into Checklists
Let’s first look into the nit and grid of Checklists. As you can imagine you can make a list for almost everything; work, household, habits and even an inspiring list. Each one has its own purpose and often people make checklists part of their routine. Either it being in the morning to prepare for the day or at the end of the day to reflect. It can even guide you through your habits with reminders to be checked off. When choosing which lists would suit you, you need to be aware of the reason. Is it the visual proof of your achievements or to remember the tasks? This will determine what kind of lists you should choose. Make it work for you! Lastly, be sure to realise how it makes you feel, is it overwhelming, draining, or empowering? How do you react when things are not crossed off?
Get to know yourself
To determine if checklists work for you and what kind would be most beneficial for you, it is important to look at your personality. Everyone works differently and you should become aware of your own preferences. When you value planning, checklists can be beneficial but if you like to be spontaneous you might want to tweak it. Often there are many items written down and for some people, it’s super motivating while for others it’s daunting. It can stop you from procrastinating as you know where your focus needs to go or it can do the opposite, demotivate you. How about when you are engaged with checklists, do you feel rushed or can you be present? Are you allowing yourself time when inspiration comes to light or is the list controlling your time? These are questions you need to ask yourself to ensure that you can reach your full potential.
Now you know how checklists make you feel, why you choose to work with them and you are aware of your preferences. It’s time to put this all into practice. Firstly you need to decide a few things. Would you like to have weekly or daily checklists or maybe a combination? How much detail do you want to incorporate? Are checklists going to be part of your routine? Once you have decided on the basic features, it will all come down to trial and error. It probably won’t work from the first time and if it does, Bonus! So allow for it to change but keep the following points in mind!
1. Categorise And Prioritise
The reason our checklists lose power is that there are too many things listed, our brain can only handle seven. Before you add items, think if they really need to be added. Can you delegate or is it part of your routine anyway? You have to be realistic in what you can achieve, it’s better to have less than feeling disappointed. (Yep, I’m still working on that one!) By categorising you allow yourself to have small lists and more chances to complete them! Yay, higher levels of happiness! Now, the most important part is to prioritise. What needs to get done today that would make my life easier and happier? Ensure to realise what would make an actual impact, it is not always the tasks you can quickly tick off that would make you feel good.
2. I Did It List
So according to Merriam Webster, we often suffer from the Zeigarnik effect. Which is the psychological tendency to remember an uncompleted task rather than a completed one. To tackle this, I have created an “I Did This List” where I write down all the things I have achieved each day. Or if you use your iPhone, just turn on “shows” in your reminders and it will make all the ticked off items visual. This can make you feel better within minutes!
3. Add Fun Items
Why do we only put boring stuff on our checklists? Why is all the adult stuff important enough to go on our list but taking care of ourselves and doing fun stuff not? Well, I think it’s time to change that! We need to be reminded of self-care and happiness items too. They need to be ticked off as well because they are actually more important. Without them, we won’t have the energy nor motivation to do the boring stuff. SO, go on, go add the fun stuff too!
4. Shake it off
By now, we know that we don’t always tick everything off our lists. Things happen and we need to deal with it. Shake it off, be proud of your “I did this list.” and move on! It can often make us feel lazy or frustrated and we shouldn’t, Checklists are allowed to collect dust. IT IS OK. Remember that life doesn’t always go to plan. So the last question I’d like to ask you that might determine whether a checklist works for you is: do you embrace change or resist?
Truthful Tea Talks Journey
For me a Checklist motivates me, it gives me peace as I know that I don’t have to remember everything as I can find it on my phone. I’m worry-free basically. With this said though, I will have to continuously remind myself that “the list” can’t take over my life. I’m in charge of these checklists. Back off lists, I’m the boss here!! The most powerful tool for me currently is the “I Did It List”, I just keep forgetting all the stuff that I did do and keep looking at the never-ending TO-Do’s. Zeigarnik effect in full swing! So I have now added “Check the I did it list!” to my To-Do’s. My work in progress? Prioritise. Still haven’t figured that one out, especially to distinguish the quick happiness VS the Good Happiness. I’ll get there, one day.
Remember The To-Do List But Don’t Forget The To-BE list.Richard branson