How to Use Checklists to Improve Productivity (With Template)

When I first started my current job, I had trouble completing tasks, not because I couldn’t do them, but because I kept forgetting them. It got to a point where I forgot to do an important task that was were detrimental to my employer.

I vowed that day that I would never allow that to happen again. I began researching ways to improve my efficiency. Making and adhering to a list was the number one recommendation. So, I got a simple notepad and started writing. I wrote all the tasks I had to complete, this changed everything. I was more productive and completed most of the tasks I had to do on and sometimes before the due date.

Making checklists improved my productivity and efficiency significantly. I even started using this technique in my personal life and the results are amazing. Continue reading to find out why this simple technique produced such amazing results.    

What are checklists?

A checklist is a productivity tool that lists tasks or activities to be completed and the date for completion. Depending on the type of checklist, it will have tasks listed and the person who is expected to complete those tasks.

A checklist improves effectiveness by systematically outlining tasks to be completed while reducing reliance on memory. 

The Importance of Checklists

A checklist is a method used to ensure that tasks to be completed are done. “Checklists free up your mind as it allows an outlet to note down all key points you need to remember to do your job or complete a project, efficiently. Checklists also ensure that you always have a sense of direction and know what you need to do next. This excludes all the guesswork from your work/project and prevents you from straying away from important tasks.”

“Checklists provide positive reinforcement. As you check off tasks, you’ll get a surge of accomplishment, which inspires you to keep going, check off more tasks and get more done, and increase your overall productivity in the process”. [source] [source]

Types of Checklists

There are many types of checklists that are used in different fields to improve productivity and reduce error. Some of which are:

  1. Training Checklist – outlines specific knowledge or skills that need to be imparted to the trainee.
  2. To-Do Checklist – the most popular type of checklist. A to-do list comprises long term and/or short-term tasks and goals that are listed either randomly or sequentially. Examples include a shopping list or a wedding planning list.
  3. Task Checklist – this type of checklist is procedural and outlines tasks to be completed in a specific order. Task lists are done to ensure that important tasks are not forgotten. Examples include an emergency evacuation checklist.
  4. Troubleshooting Checklists – This type of list is used to diagnose and resolve issues. This checklist provides explicit instructions on what to do in an emergency. An example includes a pre-flight checklist.
  5. Co-ordination Checklists – Used in big organizations, this checklist involves complex tasks to be completed by multiple people that may span different teams and/or departments.
  6. Discipline Checklist – this is used to prevent an individual from making poor decisions on the spur of the moment. This is an accountability tool that outlines all the procedures and steps to be taken that would otherwise be overlooked. [source] [source]

How to Complete a Checklist

The method and design used to complete a checklist would depend on the type of checklist being completed. However, for a basic to-do list, the design is subjective and depends on your preference. However, some components are essential to properly complete a to-do list, these include:

  1. Give your checklist a title – This outlines what your list is about
  2. Do a ‘brain dump’ – before you complete the actual list, write everything that comes to mind that needs to be done that is related to the purpose of the list.
  3. Organize your tasks in order of priority — figure out which tasks are more important and organize accordingly.
  4. Assembly the list – once you have organized your tasks, begin writing the list, starting with the task that is the most important. You can add a completion date and time if necessary. You can also add a remarks section that details the status and any collaborator (s) needed.
  5. Check off tasks as they are completed – Do this to keep track of what has been done and what is yet to be done.
  6. Continue adding to the list as the needed arises’ – because things do not always go according to plan, there are always emergencies and tasks to be done that just ‘pop up’. Don’t be deterred, add those tasks to the list and keep moving forward.

Checklist Template

If you are having difficulties designing your list, I have designed a few templates to inspire you. These are downloadable and can be customized to suit your needs:

  1. Daily To-do Checklist [Download PDF File]
  2. Weekly To-do Checklist [Download PDF File]


The effectiveness of checklists has been proven, if want to improve your productivity and have tried everything with no success, try using a checklist. You can thank me later

Hope you Enjoyed! 🙂

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