This is Day 20 in the 31 Days to Become a More Efficient Virtual Assistant Series
Previous post: Turbocharge Your Productivity with Keyboard Shortcuts
One of the most valuable lessons I learned years ago, when in Corporate America, was the importance of creating checklists to have in place for as many tasks as possible.
While providing virtual assistant services you will experience challenges and very rarely will things be identical with each client. I have found it useful to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) and checklist for every project my team works on.
Why Creating Checklists Is Important
Most successful entrepreneurs and virtual assistants I have worked with are productive and on top of their game because they use checklists (and encourage team members to do the same). Whether it’s a big, complex project or a simple one, here are some important reasons to create checklists:
- Avoid costly mistakes: No matter how skilled you are, when you are stressed or under a tight deadline, there is a good chance you will forget to do something that is crucial to the success of your project.
- It will make you a better decision maker: When push comes to shove, your biggest ally is to be able to make the right decision at the right time. This is particularly true if you work on projects that have tight deadlines, very detailed tasks and those projects that require precision.
- Develop a habit of discipline: There’s a wide range of opinion as to how many days it really takes to turn a behavior into a habit. Some say it takes 21 days while others believe it takes longer. The point is that if you get into the habit of creating and following a list, you will become more disciplined and productive.
Hopefully I have convinced you to start creating checklists, here are some tips to help make you productive and systematic:
- Consistency: Write down each component of each task and do them in the exact order each time. You want to do this consistently as to not overlook any element or detail of the project.
- Create a workflow: Keep your list simple for routine tasks, and detailed when needed, depending on the complexity of the project or task.
- Use a task checker: By physically checking off tasks completed, you’ll be able to better track your progress and be able to focus on the most important task at hand. This is particularly important for beginners and for those who are just starting a new project. It also comes in incredibly handy when you’re interrupted mid-task so you know exactly where you need to pick up again.
- Test and adapt: Every project will require different tasks and elements. Most likely you will not create the perfect checklist in the beginning. Test and adapt. Let’s say you are working on a website with a new client. Your previous checklist with another client and project most likely will not work. Some elements or tasks maybe the same, but modify other tasks as needed.
You may feel you already know what to do and don’t really need a piece of paper or list to tell you what needs to be accomplished. With that said, having a checklist will ensure work gets done in a systematic and consistent way. This is especially true when you are faced with a deadline or under pressure when we are prone to make a lot of mistakes.
Creating checklists will ensure that you save time and that you have peace of mind that you did not miss any steps or miss any tasks. In the event you’re unexpectedly out of the office someone else may be able to help complete a task in a pinch.
Do you use a checklist? Do you find creating checklists beneficial for your business? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Resources for Creating Checklists:
- How to create a checklist in Excel
- How to create a checklist in Evernote
- Create a list in Confluence (there will be a post, later in this series, about Confluence which I also discovered through my business coach)
- How to create a checklist using Google Docs
- Printable checklist