Do you use checklists at work?
When I left my first permanent job for pastures new I was asked to produce a bible. A HOW TO for doing my job. I filled a spiral bound notebook with guidance, top tips and most importantly checklists. I understand that this was a great success and was used by my successors.
Since then I developed a habit of keeping checklists where possible as they proved incredibly useful (and saved a lot of time at later dates).
The checklists I designed for my job are split into 3 categories:
1. “How to” Checklists and Training Materials
These checklists are mainly used for training purposes. They are designed to give the basic information to new starters and trainees that they can refer to or work through Step-by-Step. These also form part of my ‘bible’ for when I move on from a job. These are mainly used for straightforward technical matters where little or no discretion or knowledge is required.
2. Customer, File Or Project Overview Checklists
These checklists are used for the day-to-day job. You can set them up by file or customer or whatever category best suits the job. For example: you might want a checklist for the life cycle of your file / project so you can see what progress you are making and ensure you tick off all the different steps and don’t miss anything out. These are designed so that they can be used by you or another member of your team or anyone doing the same job. These are designed as standard documents but which save time by setting out everything clearly, streamline a process so everyone is doing the same thing or is used as a checking mechanism to minimise mistakes.
A well designed checklist can both save time and ultimately be used as your to do list.
3. Personal Checklists
These are checklists designed for personal use rather than for the use by a team. These include things that YOU specifically need to remember to help you do your job. For example I have a checklist for various documents that I proof-read as I find that both myself (and others) have the same blind spots time and time again. I will keep a checklist for things to double-check when proof-reading. Another example is where I make regular phone calls to various financial institutions. I often note which security questions they ask so that I have that information readily available as each institution seems to ask for different information and I waste time flicking through the file each time (It can also be useful to note the options on the automated service).
All the checklists (however they are designed and used) should be useful. Don’t forget some aspects of your job will become second nature and it is not necessary to keep a checklist for everything as this can waste time rather than save it. The key is finding a balance after all using a checklist should help you work efficiently, work to a high standard and in a consistent manner, prevent common errors or mistake and if your job requires you to – assist with staff training.