coffee and checklistHow much more productive could you be if the start and end to your workday were focused and organized?

Create checklists that allow you to go on autopilot at these two important times in your workday. Quick Start and Wrap Up Checklists give you a rock solid process to be as efficient as possible. See the sample lists below. The items on these lists are fairly obvious, (yours may be different) but without having these tasks written down, you have to keep them in your head. Your head, which is already jammed full of responsibilities, ideas, commitments and goals. Take the easier road and glance at a list. Free up brain space for more important or complex thoughts.

This is similar to the recipes for dishes you really enjoy. You can memorize them, but why waste the mental energy when the recipes are easy to keep on hand? If the ingredients, measures and cooking steps get memorized organically, great. Likewise, if over time you follow the routine enough that you don’t need these lists, also great.  But the goal is to limit what taxes your brain to the ideas that really matter and can’t be covered by routines.

Quick Start Checklist

  • Empty briefcase/tote
  • Review calendar for the day
  • Select most important tasks to complete throughout the day
  • Check and respond to voice mails
  • Quick check of email looking only for high priority items
  • Fill up water bottle (fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration)

Without a Quick Start checklist this could be you…

Walk into office.  Check email.  Get caught up in email for an hour.  Realize that you have your first meeting in five minutes. Frantically search your desk for your notes – your mind not fully engaged in the search because you’re freaked out about being late. Head off to the meeting without your notes, angry because you couldn’t find them. Later, remember they were still in your briefcase from the night before.

The Wrap Up Checklist

  • Declutter desk and re-file papers
  • Gather papers/files to take home if needed (hopefully not, so you can spend time relaxing and be refreshed the next day)
  • Review appointments and task list from the day and note follow-up items on To Do list
  • Check email
  • Check calendar for early appointments the next day and pull files/information, put on desk

A Wrap Up checklist allows you to make a clean break from the workday.  It clears your mind and sets you up to have a more relaxed evening, knowing you wrapped up efficiently and didn’t miss important details.