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9 Ways Highly Successful People Get Ahead With The Mighty Checklist

9 Ways Highly Successful People Get Ahead With The Mighty Checklist

The checklist is a simple and effective work hack that many professionals use to improve their performance. Whether you are a surgeon, pilot or software developer, checklists make a difference. They are one of the best ways to avoid problems and increase the consistency of your results.

1. They start with developing their expertise

A checklist puts knowledge into a useful form. However, you cannot get started with a checklist until you develop significant experience and knowledge. For example, if you are building a checklist for a monthly report, wait until you have issued the report two or three times before you create a checklist.

2. They recognize the limits of their knowledge

Successful people spend their own money to obtain additional knowledge – that’s a given. However, they also recognize that more knowledge is not the answer to every problem. In many cases, it is important to consistently and correctly apply the knowledge we already have. A checklist is a great way to improve consistency.

Tip: Resource How To Build A Checklist In 6 Steps.

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3. They use the checklist to avoid “dumb mistakes”

Do you know that surgeons sometimes leave medical equipment inside patients? According to the Daily Mail, 870 patients in the United Kingdom had medical items left inside them from surgery between 2005 and 2012. That’s a serious problem! Fortunately, this type of error can be presented with a checklist step like “check all medical instruments are accounted for.”

4.They know about the limits of human memory

The human mind is a powerful resource that enables us to accomplish many of our goals. However, there are limits to our memory. For example, memories with a strong emotional aspect tend to last longer. That means a routine step in a work process – unlikely to have any emotional significance – is more likely to be forgotten. Those exact steps are great candidates to be included on a checklist.

Tip: 12 Simple Ways To Improve Your Memory.

5. They work to avoid the biggest causes of failure.

Successful people understand the value of managing risk. As Richard Branson explains in his autobiography, ““It is only by being bold that you get anywhere. If you are a risk-taker, then the art is to protect the downside.” A checklist is a great way to avoid failures. For example, to prevent problems during travel, make sure to keep a copy of your passport identification page.

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Tip: 5 Great Questions to Ask Yourself After a Failure. If you fail, then you have the opportunity to learn from that experience and avoid that problem in the future.

6. They keep their ego and self-confidence under control

Successful people have a great deal of confidence. Their confidence gives them the ability to make presentations, make sales and get ahead. However, confidence makes it easy to skip important steps and details. A checklist reminds you of the importance of working through the most critical steps for a process, each and every time. For example, a wise security precaution is to change your personal passwords annually – no matter how confident you are about them.

Resource: 10 Ways You Can Do To Build Self Confidence Instantly.

7. They use systems to reach success rather than guessing

Successful people put their trust in systems. Once you find a proven method to achieve a result, why waste time continuing to experiment? A checklist is a great system that can improve performance in all areas of life. For example, you can use checklists to improve your evening routine and your professional presentations (e.g. use a checklist to check a presentation for formatting and consistent design).

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If you are very keen to develop a system with a brand new activity, there are two options. You can do an Internet search for a template or checklist to use. Or you can ask an experienced coworker or mentor to see if they have a checklist that you can use.

8. They know the power of communication in working through problems

According to industry surveys, project managers spend 80% of their time on communication. It is a critical skill for high performance in all areas of life. Rather than make assumptions, successful people verify information and communicate proactively. With checklists, medical professionals often include communication steps (e.g. introduce everyone on the team by name and role). For a recurring activity at work, this approach improves results.

Tip: Find out Ten Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills.

9. They know how to work through conflict to their advantage

Successful people know that conflict is a reality in the workplace. Given that reality, professionals build habits and routines to reduce conflict and resolve conflict after it occurs. For example, a team building checklist could include one team lunch per month to increase social bonding in the team. In addition, connecting around common goals in team meetings tends to reduce conflict.

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Resource: Continue your conflict management education by reviewing this guide to 33 conflict management resources.

Featured photo credit: Checklist/DS355 via flickr.com

More by this author

Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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