The Weekly Checklist: The key to ninja productivity

13/11/2012 |

When most people start working on increasing their productivity, they focus on lists.

Lists are a crucial part of a ninja’s ‘second brain’, but all you get from a list is memory: write things down on a list and the list becomes the ‘place’ you remember it, rather than your own brain.  But if your second brain is going to really replace your own mind and leave your own mind less stressed,  your second brain needs intuition and intelligence as well.

Checklists are a brilliant tool to guide your thinking.

The regular, intelligent and intuitive rhythm of a good weekly check list ensures that when you need to take a step back and review your progress, you focus your attention and thinking on all the right things and ask yourself all the right questions.  A brief daily checklist can also be a great way to start the day and remain focussed.

What’s on a productivity ninja’s weekly checklist?

A lot of people ask me what’s on my weekly checklist so I’m including it here for you to download.  My own checklist is pretty detailed.  My mindset here is preparedness: I was to make sure I don’t miss a thing, that nothing can fall between the cracks.

There are weeks when I need to use the checklist methodically and intensely, and other weeks when I feel quite in control and can use the checklist more casually.  Nevertheless, a good weekly review period should not be considered optional: time spent taking stock, thinking ahead and getting ready for the next challenges ALWAYS pays off.

There are some things on here which are obviously very tailored to me and you won’t have a need for (the first 3 items at the top are plastic files that live in my bag, because my bag is basically a mobile office, with everything I need to set up a desk on a train, in an airport, at my mum’s house and so on – you won’t need these on your checklist, but maybe you have something else that’s personal to you that DOES need to be included).

How I use it

Finally, it’s worth noting that my weekly checklist sheet is still not the perfect checklist for me.  I don’t think that’s even possible as the world, my priorities and my working style all change over time.  So the checklist probably gets a tweak and reworking every few months.

When I use it, I have my laptop and iPad open in front of my to be able to see calendar (Outlook) and tasks (Toodledo) both in front of me.  I then have the checklist printed on an A4 piece of paper, and put a line through each item as I run through the checklist.  On a good day, my checklist takes an hour, on a bad day it’s 2 or even 2.5.  But during that time, I’m getting everything in my work and life under control, so it never feels like there’s a wasted moment.

Here is my weekly checklist for you to see GRAHAM’S WEEKLY REVIEW CHECKLIST’

How to design your own

The worksheet here is a neat tool for you to be able to create your own version of my weekly checklist.  Simply follow the sections here and thinking about what you’d need to think about to get it all under control.  If you want to get a more detailed overview of how to use a Weekly Checklist to make sure that things in your work never fall between the cracks again, there’s plenty more in the ‘Review’ chapter of my book, “How to be a Productivity Ninja” – and elsewhere in the book too.

In the meantime, hope you enjoy using this little tool we’ve created to go alongside the book:


Good luck!

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