If you’re using a checklist, it’s because you want to accomplish something important. The problem with checklists is that they don’t always work the way we think they will. Here are 12 reasons why your checklist isn’t working for you:
1 . You fail to follow the directions on the list.
I’ve seen this one hundred times. The list is clear and has all the steps you need to follow, but you refuse to do them in order. Next time, take a minute or two before you start working on your project and read through the steps. Do each step exactly as it’s written before moving on to the next one.
2 . You don’t check the list to see if you missed anything.
I’ve used checklists that tell me to do something and then leave it up to me to figure out what comes next. It might seem like a good idea, at first, but there’s no way I can keep track of everything that needs doing on my own. The best lists are the ones that also tell me what comes next and remind me of anything I might need.
3 . You forget to update the list with things you learn along the way.
You start using a checklist and everything seems great until you check something off and realize it needs to be updated. Don’t wait until the end of your project or task before updating your list. As soon as you check something off, write down what needs to be done next.
4 . You don’t know how to fix or solve problems that come up.
The only way a checklist is going to work for you is if it’s thoroughly thought through. If there are things on your list that aren’t clear, have extra steps that aren’t needed, or have things you don’t know how to do, it’s time to change your checklist.
5 . You’re not prepared for the unexpected.
Checklists aren’t just for things that can be planned ahead of time. They can also help you find a way out of a situation when something goes wrong. When you have a list of the things you need to do, it’s easier for you to remember what needs doing next. If something unexpected happens, you’ll be able to tell right away and even come up with a way of fixing it.
6 . You leave important steps out of your list.
Every task on your list should be one that you can physically do. The things you need to know how to do, however, aren’t always going to be obvious and they shouldn’t necessarily be on your list. For example, I don’t have a list of what goes into a good story or the way to write a good sentence, but everyone has their own method for figuring those things out.
7 . You’re not really committed to using a checklist.
If you don’t take the time to develop your own checklist, it’s going to be someone else’s list. You’ll be following their rules and goals for what they think you should do, rather than your own. For example, when you get an assignment from someone else, you can build your own list based on what the article, book, or lesson tells you to do.
8 . You see using a checklist as inefficient.
Everyone gets frustrated with checklists sometimes because they feel like they’re slowing you down. The best way around this is to think of your checklist as an instruction manual for whatever it is you’re doing. You can’t expect to know everything there is to know about your project or task.
9 . You think that you don’t need a checklist.
Sure, everyone knows how to wash the dishes and sweep the floor, but even those simple tasks come with their own problems now and then. It’s those problems and issues that make using a checklist so important. Things don’t always happen the way they’re supposed to, so you need your checklist to keep track of what comes next.
10 . You’re not willing to take the time to make a good checklist.
The worst checklists are the ones that someone else made for you or that you printed off without putting any thought into them. A really good checklist starts with planning, rather than printing.
11 . You think that checklists are only for newbies.
Checklists are usually used by people who are trying something for the first time, but they can also help more experienced people. Learning how to accomplish something is a skill in itself and your checklist can help guide you. When you’ve done something before, it seems easier. Using a list can help keep things from getting too easy by reminding you of the steps that are involved in your project or task.
12 . You don’t know how to use different kinds of checklists.
For example, when writing an article, a daily checklist keeps one on track with the basics. If someone’s doing a book report, it helps them follow the much more specific rules for that kind of assignment. Some things, like starting to write an article or working in a garden can be done in many different ways and need their own kinds of checklists.
One great tip to make checklists easier is to use Venngage — an online checklist maker and known infographic maker that offers a wide range of checklist templates for everyone. To give you a better idea, here are some checklist examples from their website.
If you’re not using checklists and working lists for your own benefit, then you may be missing out on some important steps. Making a checklist doesn’t take much time and once it’s made, it can save you hours of frustration in the future. If you’re still not sure how to make one your own, consider using Venngage. If you want to start becoming more productive, make your own checklist today!