Out of all the strategies you employ to save time, most save only a few minutes each day. However, there is one time-saving technique that has stood the test of time. It’s simple, requires practically no effort on your part and is probably something you’ve already tried out in the past. If you don’t currently structure your day around a checklist, you may be wasting far more time than you realize.
Forgetting a birthday party or anniversary is bad enough, but forgetting to finish a presentation or attend a meeting can cost you your job. When you write checklists, you won’t forget a single responsibility, and you won’t waste time trying to remember what you’re supposed to get done today.
You’re not that good at multitasking
Computers, smartphones and other technologies have done a good job convincing everyone that they’re great at multitasking. Sure, you can check your email while writing a report and talking to a client on the phone. However, you’re more likely to make mistakes, and you’ll spend more time completing all three tasks at the same time than tackling them one by one. Some people prefer structuring a checklist with the large, important tasks scheduled early in the morning while others prefer creating a mix of larger projects and smaller tasks throughout the day, but both types of lists have one thing in common: you only complete one task at a time.
Many people make the mistake of only listing the big-ticket items for each day on their checklists. But checklists work even better when you include small tasks such as eating lunch, submitting weekly reports, conference calls and responding to emails. Better yet, include all of your day’s activities. Showers, shopping and going to the movies all take time, and checklists can help you make all of your activities—both professional and personal—more efficient.
Efficient checklist writing
A checklist is supposed to save you time instead of wasting it. Minimize the amount of time you spend writing your checklists by creating a template, which should include the sort of everyday tasks you complete without even thinking about.
Finish tomorrow’s checklist today
At the end of the day, sit down and jot down all the tasks that you failed to complete today. Schedule them for first thing the next morning, and don’t start new projects until those tasks are complete. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your workload, but checklists will help keep your job manageable.