Create a checklist
It's not that complicated to publish a blog post twice a week. (As long as you know what you want to write about, that is.) But when I was first getting started, there were several steps I would forget about - or do in the wrong order. I solved this by creating a checklist; I used my label maker to print labels and stuck them right onto my Chromebook: Title, Image, Tags, Related Posts, URL, Spreadsheet. Seven words, six tasks that have made posting blog entries easier ever since.
Checklists clear space in your brain and increase the likelihood that you do all the things you have to do. They are useful for any tasks that have to be done in a similar way many times, yet not all the time. Here are some other checklists I have created:
Speech checklist. I have no problem coordinating with the event planner or pulling my presentation together, but sometimes I forget items until I'm racing out the door. So now a day or two before the event, I pull out my list that includes items such as flash drive, slide advancer, name tag, handouts/giveaways, props, blog sign-up sheets, driving directions, water bottle, snack, and lipstick. My last several speech mornings have gone much smoother because of the list.
Holiday gift checklist. I have used the same spreadsheet for several years to track gift ideas, purchases and expenses. It's stored on Google Drive so I can access from my phone or any computer, which helps me keep it up to date. With a row for each gift recipient, I have columns for category (Smith family, Myers family, teachers, etc.), name, gift ideas, budget, items purchased, actual expenses and remainder (if I didn't max out my budget for that person). It allows me to quickly see who I still have to buy for and how much I have left to spend. If you'd like a copy, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Party checklist. Each year as my children's shared birthday party approaches, we create a new list of items to buy and tasks to complete. Invariably, we forget something and at the last minute we are running out for ice or asking someone to pick up salad dressing on their way to our house. So last night I started a spreadsheet listing every task and purchase I can think of. I again used a spreadsheet so it can easily be modified as I remember more things, but also so I can list how far in advance of the party each of the tasks can or should be done and can therefore assign due dates. One of my goals is that we will now more easily take care of things like cups and plates in advance, so we're not doing all the shopping a day or two (or an hour or two) before the event.
Newsletter checklist. I compile my Pep Talks in a twice-monthly newsletter, Positivity Delivered. When I sit down to pull the newsletter together, I get my hand-written checklist and follow the steps, such as adding new subscribers, printing and creating PDFs for each post, updating the links and posts on my website, deciding on the note I'll include for each post and for the bottom section, copying the template, adding each item (title, note, link, photo, repeat!), previewing the links, sending the newsletter, adding the newsletter link to my spreadsheet, and sharing on Facebook. I also have a note on my list that I need to budget 30-35 minutes for the process.
Checklists save us time, energy, and money. What checklists can you create to make life easier?