Using Checklists To Boost Your Productivity

  | 6 min read
Using checklists

Accomplishing a goal or completing a task can be a very satisfying thing. It is an indication that your efforts have paid off and you are ready for the next big challenge. Our brains are wired to derive pleasure from wins because human beings are naturally competitive even if the competition is with oneself. Simply checking-off a task on your to-do list has been shown to release dopamine in your brain, the feel-good hormone that is responsible for the excitement we feel for various things or reasons.

We all love accomplishments and checking off lists of things one is supposed to do brings a sense of excitement. Checklists are important because they help you keep track of the things you are supposed to do and alert you on the accomplishment of your tasks. They also help you with prioritizing your work and keeping track of your progress, especially when you are handling many tasks and projects. So, if you are having many things to do at the same time, why not make use of checklists to stay motivated?

How to Make Check Lists

Most people do not know how to set up checklists. In many cases, people will simply write down the entire project or activity as a goal on the checklist. This can be discouraging, as it does not help you see that you are working towards achieving the overarching goal. Here is how to make an effective checklist.

  1. Define the overall goal

Defining goals

The first step is to decide what is to be achieved in the long run. This will help you get a clear picture of what you are working towards and give you a rough idea of how to get there. Moreover, it will help you in the next steps below.

 2. Break down the overall goal into tasks

Once you know what the goal is, you are able to define activities that will help you to achieve it. These act as milestones which help you work progressively towards the general goal. Write down the overall goal and then list the activities that you are to do so that you can achieve the goal. The list should move from the most basic to the final activity. This list is what you will check off as you work towards achieving the goal.

 3. Keep track of the activities

Being on track

Ensure that you stay committed to the activities, to help you get a sense of achievement. Ticking them off helps you feel good about yourself as you will see yourself progressively accomplishing the general goal. This has the effect of boosting your productivity, as it amounts to small wins.

  4. Ensure that the activities are SMART

Smart stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. The tasks should be those that you can keep track of and know when they are complete. You should also allocate time for each task to help you stay committed and gauge yourself. This also helps you to pay attention to each activity and in case you need to rest, you can include it in the tasks.

Why Checklists Improve Your Productivity

  1. Turns mundane exercises into fun activities

Fun at work

Just like in gaming, work is made fun by accomplishments. Games are made interesting by the ability to amass points as a person’s scores increases. The use of tasks broken down using checklists has the same effect as amassing points. It is an indication of accomplishments which eventually lead to a greater achievement. For example, teams in the Premier League play different games throughout a season during which they amass points. These games are the equivalent of checklists in which the teams gain slowly as they work towards winning the main award.

 2. They act as rewards

Obviously, you are not going to get rewarded for every task you complete or even get a compliment every time you complete a task. But, we all know that a compliment here and a ‘thumbs up’ there make you feel good about yourself and your work. You can reward yourself each time you complete a task by having checklists which help you keep track of your progress. Everyone likes getting rewarded for their effort and checking off those activities is an act of reward that can significantly boost your productivity.

 3. You train your brain to stay focused on the goal

Staying focused

Without a clear path to your goal, it can be easy to get distracted along the way and not even know whether you are making any progress at all. This can be discouraging and can lead to getting distracted and leaving the task mid-way, even if you are almost done. However, with checklists which show the progress of your achievements, it becomes easy to stay focused as you can see your progress towards achieving the final goal. At the end of the day, your brain learns how to break down work into small tasks and stay focused until the entire job is completed.

 4. Checklists make you organised

Being organized

If for nothing else, checklists will help you remember every activity that you need to accomplish. When working in busy environments and when you have a lot of tasks at hand, some can get lost on the way, which will discourage you as you will seem like you are not committed to your job. With checklists, you learn how to organise your day and this helps you in accomplishing your tasks even if they seem a lot. If you have a regular schedule, you can create a checklist which captures your daily activities and thus, helps you organise yourself for a long time. If you have trouble creating a schedule, there are online resources that provide templates and are customisable. 

The use of checklists is something that everyone can benefit from and can help in boosting your productivity. Apart from helping you make small wins and dissect large tasks into small, manageable activities, it can also help you organize your work. This helps you clear all your work progressively and can be a major boost to your productivity as it gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Do you use checklists? Let us know how they have helped you be more productive.

Njeri Karanja
Njeri is a reading and creative writing enthusiast who is neck-deep in research writing. She is well versed in researching and writing on various topics.