In the past few years I’ve learned a lot about myself. Mostly, I’ve learned I can’t do everything I’ve planned to or want to do unless I write it down. Maybe it’s because I’m 30 (I forget that, a lot), or because I try to do a little of everything, but probably because I’m just human. In the world of special education I told my students that although they may have exceptionalities, it’s important to find a way to work through it; mine is checklists. Checklist have changed the way I think, act, and live. I’ve done it, but now I want to share 3 ways checklists can change your life.
1. They give you a sense of accomplishment.
Call me a sucker for a gold star, but I love that feeling of getting something done. I have lesson plans done for the week, gold star. I actually ran my goal mileage for the day, gold star. My son is up and no tears or complaints, gold star!!! Writing something down, no matter how big or small, and getting it done will make you even more proud to do it. Don’t believe me? Write down “read this blog post and comment” and do it! You’ll get that “gold star” and maybe even view another post because that feeling of accomplishment is SO good. I take the time to jot down things that pop up in my head throughout the day in the notes on my phone onto my weekly checklist. When it’s time to make a to-do list for the day, I now have a list of the things I need to do and it’s easy to prioritize, which leads to number two.
2. They allow you to have focus points.
Checklist, big or small, are an easy way to hone in on the REALLY Important tasks. Yes, watching an hour of planner videos on YouTube is fun, but if it’s at the bottom of my checklist I know it’s less important than coming up with fundraiser ideas for my son’s football team. I am reading (Truthfully I’m listening to it’s an audiobook) “the 4 hour workweek” and the author mentions writing down 4 tasks that can be accomplished THAT DAY. I like this idea because it makes you focus on the now versus later and lessens the chance of distraction; Focusing on the now will get you farther. As a mom, teacher, and soon to be student I know I will have many things that need to be done, but choosing 4 tasks that can be done today just may be the motivation to do the other 50 million things I have to do today.
3. They are evidence of growth.
Checking off the tasks will not only serves as intrinsic motivation but it also leaves a way of extrinsic motivation, a list of tasks completed. Remember the pictures you see every year at back to school time (I’ve taken one with my son every year) and then the last day of school? Funny how different they look, right! Just like that snapshot in the past shows growth in ways you couldn’t imagine so does your checklist. I like to keep my lists in a planner so that it can glance back at them for reference. At the end of the week, I can look back and say “wow, I did all of that” and be even more proud of the gold stars I’ve received. We often doubt how powerful extrinsic motivation is when we’re completing tasks, but having the opportunity to look back and reflect is the key!
Of course there are more than 3 ways checklists can change your life, but I hope these offer you a reason to get up and write your checklists down! Need a place to keep them? There are ENDLESS options from the dollar spot at target to the planner that got me started by Erin Condren (there’s also $10 to get you started).
The key is, pick a method and start. Don’t let another day pass without a checklist and start changing your life!