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How do people create and improve their checklists?

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  • How do people create and improve their checklists?

    An important part of the GTD is using lists/checklists. These are checked through during the weekly review to trigger actions and projects. DA mentions these as "recipes of potential ingredients for projects, events, and areas of value, interest and responsibility."

    I've realised recently that some stuff that I needed to do wasn't getting done because it wasn't represented in any of my checklists. For example, I realised I hadn't been keeping track of the impact of my different advertising methods. It was something I had forgotten to include when I initially created and revised my checklists. So now I have included "check feedback on advertising" in what I call my "runway checklist" and also I have "monitor impacts of marketing" on my list of "Areas of responsibilities".

    DA gives comprehensive suggestions on checklists headings and includes a "incompletion trigger" list for a mind sweep. I have used many of DAs lists as models and have gradually edited them as time goes by.

    But I'm trying to be more systematic and I'm interested to know how people devise and improve their checklists. Obviously brainstorming and identifying leaks are obvious methods.

    I am aware that in GTD there is always a temptation to go too elaborate and look for a "system" when intuition and more open ended thinking can be just as good (or better). Perhaps I'm asking for a "checklist for checklists" and obviously there's a danger of going round in circles!

    But I'm still intrigued. Has anyone devised a list of questions or a process to go through which might be useful in elaborating and improving one's checklists?


  • #2
    At the bottom of my Weekly Review tickler sheet is a reminder to look more deeply at my lists, and to ask myself whether I could add a "Wow!" project.

    I wonder whether this is something that can be made into a process, though.


    • #3
      Dear Tom,

      This is an example of a checklist I use:

      - Check Spare Tires Pressure
      - Check defragmentation on the Laptop
      - Check Antivirus on the Laptop
      - Check Spyware on the Laptop
      - Check Ad-Aware SE on the Laptop
      - Check SpyBotsd on the Laptop
      - Check Spyware Blaster on the Laptop
      - Do a RAM Dump
      - Clean coupons Holder
      - Print Calendar Notes
      - Print Address Book
      - Print Tasks
      - Print Notes

      When this list starts was just the Check Spare Tires Pressure Item. In the same way I have a summer list, just are created starting with one item. Later I discover, will be nice to do this or that and added to the list.

      My point is maybe one at the time, your checklists take time to be complete...

      I was in a show 3 months ago and the person in charge of send the equipment send the things incomplete, a soon as I get back to the office I had a meeting with this person and told her we need to create a checklist for when she send stuff to me to my shows.

      The list starts this way:
      Computer Cable
      2 Flat Monitors
      Cable for Monitors to Computer
      Computer Check it by IT
      Monitors Check it by IT

      She look at me like crazy, now she has add more things to that list and love it...

      Just identify what components your checklist need that you know right now, the rest will come a soon as you stop thinking on those.



      • #4
        paper or digital?

        If paper, choices include index cards that you rotate through a tickler, something you print out once ane then thow away, a chart so you have a record overtime.

        If digital, it is nice if you can really see if you checked the item off and when, have room for a comment, and can easly search or or visually scan the list, and print it out. Not sure I have found any digital that is easy to use and synch between Palm and Windows.

        Regardless, checklists havew a funnyd developmental sequence. They often start out too complex, get too simple, and then a happy medium is found; or the other way around. Sometimes they get forgotten about and then rediscovered.


        • #5
          Ideas since yesterday

          I've been thinking about this since yesterday.

          As I mentioned in my example above, the thing I forget to include was to do with monitoring/record keeping which is an aspect of project implementation that is often neglected. Thinking in terms of projects I've come with a general list of triggers for projects:
          Follow up
          Record keeping
          (obviously "implement" isn't in there as it's inherent in the GTD system)

          I'm not sure how useful this is.

          Another way I could have avoided the leak was to simply focus in more detail on my area of responsibility. For example for Marketing:
          Marketing strategy
          Marketing objectives
          Client needs/aspirations
          Marketing mix
          Improving service
          Monitoring Impact
          The process then is just to go into more detail.

          However, I agree with a previous post that lists can get too elaborate. If they include unnecessary stuff, or too much repetition, then you just get bored looking through them and you don't give the items enough individual attention.

          Last edited by tominperu; 01-14-2007, 09:35 AM. Reason: improvement


          • #6
            Brainstorm as in mind-map/list creation. Write it up (in expected order of execution). Review and edit (as necessary). Use it. Adjust (as needed). Use it.

            The process is similar to what military gunners go through ... target identification, fire, adjust fire, and finally fire for effect ... a quick method of getting onto the target.


            • #7
              A couple of web sites with checklist info..



              I hope these help. Checklists can be really helpful--I develop mine over years as things become more routine for me or the processes become more complex-- sometimes it makes sense to add steps, or to delete steps.