A few months ago I read a book called The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. It’s mostly about how doctors and pilots use checklists in their daily work to make things safer and to know what to do when things don’t go according to plan.
I expected it to be more instructional, about how you might go about setting up checklists in your own life, but it really wasn’t.
Still, something about it must have stuck with me, because I started to think that having a checklist would be really helpful for me to get things done at the beginning of the month so that I wouldn’t have to think about them again or wonder if I had done them.
Call it a check-in checklist if you like, or a beginning of the month (or end, depending on when you do it) to do list.
How to Make a Check-in Checklist
Everyone’s checklist is going to be different depending on what you need to do from month to month that you often forget about or might not want to forget about.
Mine includes things like:
- sending invoices
- paying bills/taxes
- checking bank balances and moving money around as needed
- making sure my bookkeeping spreadsheet is up to date
- answering lingering emails or cleaning out email
- setting goals for the month
- cleaning off my desk
- brainstorming/editorial calendar setup
Yours might include more household and less business items, such as:
- making appointments for kids
- cleaning out school paperwork (that should totally be on my list, too)
- cleaning that particular place in the house where everything gets dumped
- meal planning/make ahead
- choosing a book to read
The great thing about a check in checklist is that it’s yours and can be completely personal to whatever you need. If you work outside the home you might have a different list for work and home, or whatever works for you.
Working with a Checklist
This month was the first time I’ve been able to actually use my check-in checklist because of the craziness of summer and September.
I really liked having a list to look at and go through, though I didn’t finish it all in one day. I still need to catch up on bookkeeping, goal setting, my calendar and my email a little bit (always), but I did send an invoice, pay some bills and do some other stuff I might have otherwise put off.
I think that’s the real beauty of the checklist system for me. If I know I have a time to do these things at the beginning of the month, I can just do them and not have to think about it the rest of the month.
It’s perfect for people who tend to procrastinate or just have really bad memories and can’t recall if they paid their taxes or responded to that email.
Do you use a check-in checklist or a monthly to do list or some other system to keep on top of these things? Or are you naturally more pulled together than I am? I’d love to hear your thoughts and systems.