managing self

Planning Session 4 – the Checklist

There are two more posts in this “planning session” series which has detailed the process and approach I have taken to organising and planning the year ahead – the checklist and a summary, pulling all the planning tools together. I would’ve liked to have shared my thoughts on goal setting, but I’m still trying to work the process out. It’s been tough. After a three hour session, I’d made progress but I need to re-think my approach. Suffice to say, there is no one method, template…..any right or sure way to set goals. I have short to mid term goals, absolutely, however these are yet to make it to a piece of paper or be well defined enough to be able to tackle each element of them.

In this post, I will focus on the development of a ‘checklist’ I now use to tick off regular tasks, including habits I wish to establish.

I may have said this before, but not only am I a visual person, I’m also results driven. I like to see progress being made, as well as seeing when to celebrate successes and little wins. I didn’t want to clog up my task manager, this would be too overwhelming. I didn’t want to set aside a block of time for regular tasks and habits in my diary or calendar, such as exercise. I found last year this didn’t work for me. I became immune to those scheduled time blocks, I ended up booking appointments over the top, studied, etc. Self imposed due dates also became useless to me. I set too many tasks for myself and saw the due dates rush past in a flurry. No wonder I felt swamped, guilty (for not exercising or completing a task), trapped and buried in ‘have to’s’.

Primarily, the idea behind the checklist is habit development. Other uses include regular tasks, such as blog posts, professional readings, and also drawing my focus to the projects I’m currently working on. I initially thought to create a fortnightly checklist, but have now opted for a monthly. I’ve used (Kikki K) A4 monthly planners. A spreadsheet or table would also be effective, they were in my undergrad years. 🙂 The purpose of the checklist is to visually see progress, and also see when it is not made or identify which area (or habit) is falling behind.

I’ve noted my goals on the bottom of the planners. One of them is to do physical exercise four times a week, three times as a minimum. By not ‘booking’ in exercise, I free myself to achieve those three to four workouts at any time during the week. If I don’t feel like exercising one day, no matter, I have the week to complete my quota. Flexibility in my schedule is also realised and achieved this way. I am satisfied when I see the ‘ticks’ at the end of the week and end of the month.

I can say, more than a month in using the systems I have put in place, the plans I have made and the tools I have used, it’s all working for me. I can elaborate more on the benefits of my planning sessions in my summary post. So for now, here are some additional resources for establishing habits.

5 Steps to create a new habit – zenhabits

How to not change a habit: 7 common mistakes – The Positivity Blog

What rituals do you include in your work life? – The Bamboo Project

A compact guide to creating the fitness habit – zenhabits

The two-headed beast of successful habit change – zenhabits

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  1. I use checklists all the time. They keep me sane (no need to remember) and keep me focused. I prefer paper checklists because when I ‘tick’ them it feels like I’m making progress. I don’t have the same feeling of satisfaction with online checklists/task manager.

    I use a 2B5 lecture book for daily and weekly checklists.
    Btw – do you happen to self-draw your ‘check boxes’? I do. lol.

    1. For regular tasks and habits I’m wanting to develop, a paper checklist is definitely working for me too. For the same reason, I just don’t get the same satisfaction or see that I’m making progress with a online or electronic tool. A new approach to my task manager (I use ‘Things’ for projects and ad hoc tasks) is I don’t enter all the tasks necessary to complete a project all at once. Instead, I identify what the very next thing I need to do to move the project forward, two tasks ahead at a maximum. This way I have a sense (or more) of control and oddly enough, freedom. I hadn’t thought about drawing my own check boxes. My hand-written lists actually aren’t very neat. lol

      1. I also usually have tasks just one or two steps ahead rather than a complete list. It becomes too overwhelming for me otherwise, and I end up procrastinating because the list is too long.

        Focusing on daily actions to take me through to the next day is what seems to work best for me. I wrote about this briefly in terms of New Year resolutions last month –

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