Dummies Guide to Checklists & Processes

5 Min Read
Dummies Guide to Checklists & Processes

Dummies Guide gets back to the basics about checklists and processes in a  non-intimidating way. Help you understand the power of a simple checklist. How checklists have the ability to increase productivity, ensure consistency while reducing mistakes and errors and make sure the task is completed the best way every time.

Checklists have become some of the most helpful efficiency and productivity tools today. Most people get overwhelmed with everything that they have to handle in a day. Between work and personal duties, it’s easy to pass over some things if you don’t know how to manage tasks. 

A well-structured checklist can save you the mental gymnastics of trying to remember what to do. Checklists are useful in both personal and professional capacities. You only have to know how to maximise their potential, and this dummies’ guide will get you started.

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What is a Checklist?

Checklists are often confused with a to-do list on how people perceive them. They both offer different things. To-do list is more ad-hoc tasks where checklists offer more detail and break complex processes into smaller steps.

The best way to describe checklists is to-do list with detailed instructions, which outlines how a specific process should be performed for the best possible results. This ensures consistency and you don’t forget any important steps.

A checklist is a format that contains the activities that have to be completed within a certain timeframe. The tasks on the list can be repetitive or not. The tool is designed to make standard checks or verification of activities.

A Checklist offers an orderly and systematic approach to tasks, allowing you to move from one item to the next. You can use checklists as a part of any business process to guarantee tasks are completed and in the best possible way.

What is a Process?

A process is a series of steps that need to be carried out to complete a task. The way something works the best. Processes can occur as a one-off event or reoccurring on a daily / weekly basis or periodic for example quarterly.

How do you define a process? A series of progressive steps you must take to complete a task.  

What is the purpose of a process?  Defining the best way a task should be completed ensures consistency.

Why is a process important? Processes are important because they describe how things should be done.

What is the Purpose of a Checklist?

So why use checklist what do they offer that a to-do list doesn’t? Checklists offer a way of assuring tasks are completed in a certain way and important steps are not missed in the process. Offering a guide to best practices

Checklists are a great way to motivate us to complete more tasks but the most significant skill is to reduce mistakes and errors or missing important steps within a process.

Checklists Reduce Mistakes in History

Checklists go back a long way and have proven themselves over and over again.

The aviation industry is one area that made use of checklists regularly. The complexity of flying and the potential for human error was identified during the war when the B-17 long-range bomber crashed. Realising that a simple checklist would make sure a step was not missed and reduce pilot error. Still to this day pilots must run through a rigorous pre-flight checklist before a takeoff.

NASA gets a lot of credit for making checklists as popular as they are today. If you have ever watched a rocket launch, then you have heard the controllers run through a NASA checklist to make certain that everything is ready for takeoff.

The Checklist Manifesto

Based on this information on how checklists had improved safety and reduced human error in history, Atul Gawande decided to investigate and research the effects checklists could have on the medical world. His research was documented in a book called The Checklist Manifesto.

Identifying that checklists can guide surgeons through key steps in any complex procedure reducing infection and deaths so medical checklists save lives.

Hospital checklists have now been implemented and adopted by many after WHO surgical safety checklist was created from the research carried for the checklist manifesto.

Checklists Manage Processes

A Process is a checklist of things that need to be done ensuring the right things get done by the correct people at the right time.

Checklists and processes prevent mistakes and guide people to complete a task the best possible way.

How do you Create a Checklist?

So, now that you grasp how a checklist works, what do you need to make it actionable? Not every itemised list will have desirable outcomes. Therefore, you should know what makes a good one.

Firstly, it should be simple. Make a list that is concise so that anyone who uses it can do so easily. Besides the language that you use, the number of items on the list matters too. Don’t put too many things on the list that it intimidates users.

If your list contains different types of activities, categorise them. Dividing tasks into sections makes navigation uncomplicated.

A good checklist should be flexible to provide room for adjustments. Over time, you might need to refine the list, and the tool should allow that without any issue.

Dummies Guide to Checklists in Business

Companies are among the biggest beneficiaries of checklists. In the right hands and with proper structure, a checklist can do so must for a business. One is enhancing organisation. The tool lets you arrange activities in order of importance. By doing this, you ensure that the most critical work gets done first.

A well-structured checklist can help reduce decision fatigue. The tool saves employees the stress of having to remember what to do next. When you have been trying to run through tasks the entire day, trying to remember what more to do can be exhausting. Besides decreasing the burden on the mind, checklists can make workers more creative by giving them the time and energy to think outside the box.

The tools improve productivity. The advantage of checklists is that they show employees where to focus their energy. From the get-go, they know which tasks are vital and which ones can wait. A checklist minimises time wastage and maximises expertise.

With checklists, workers can focus only on the tasks that they need to complete and, hence avoid distractions. Usually, the tool will include a timeframe for each item, and this helps keep users grounded.

Checklist software

With the information in this dummies guide for checklists and processes, you can tell if the tool is for you. Take the time to identify what you want to achieve from a checklist and then create one that matches your needs. Also, find the best applications to use.

Checklist used to be about pieces of paper with a list of questions or actions with checkboxes that can be ticked off when the task had been carried out. Now you can have checklist software that can offer automation, reminders and allocation to the best team member for that task.

I hope this dummies guide has answered lots of questions and why Checklist Power Business Processes

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