Now before you make fun of me and call me names like “Anal Retentive”, “Dork”, or “Old School”, let me tell you, I very rarely forget anything and some would call me the nicest a****** they know. Why, because, my strength lies in two things, I think? They are my communication skills with people and my follow up skills. When coaching, folks ask me many times, how do you remember that stuff or I can’t believe you keep talking to me about that. Why, it’s simple, I am a checklist fanatic. Yep, I got a checklist for everything….groceries, work, bills….you name it, and my checklist even has “play with the dog” on it. Let the name calling and mocking begin. I even have a checklist that reminds me to complete all my checklists.

Now before you get too deep in clichés let me remind you of some of the most important checklists out there.

How about pilots…..
Fuel – check
Flaps – check
Flight plan – check
Rudder – check
Engines – check

How about Doctors……
Blood Pressure – check
Temperature – check
Pulse – check

Now, no one makes fun of those dudes, because frankly they deal with life or death measures so they have to have a list, right?

Now, I wonder when the last time one of these redundant checks actually came up with something missing. Probably not often, but I bet you if they didn’t do the checklist every time, something at sometime would come up not complete or accurate, and guess what, someone would get hurt or maybe worse, and than the public would be asking, “Don’t they have a checklist or something that would have prevented that from happening?”

Fly or operate by the seat of your pants, I don’t think so….

I work in the restaurant and coaching biz and yep checklists abound, and for the sake of my clients and guests, I use my checklists every time, religiously. They never seem to appreciate it when I use my checklist but I can tell you they get mad as hell when I don’t.

Next time you find yourself wondering, “How did I forget to do that?” think to yourself, “Self, maybe I should have had a checklist.”

Some great best practices for putting together your life or death daily non-negotiables for your clients, customers, or guests might be:

Make it easy-for some it’s a yellow pad and paper, some it’s a computer program – whatever it is make it something you WILL do, not something you won’t do
Categorize – work, personal, groceries, projects, etc
Mark off your items as soon as they are done – a feeling of accomplishment will come from knocking out your list of things to do. You will gain speed as you accomplish even more and more and more
Every day things you have to do go at the top - when you realize there is something missing add it so you never miss it again

And most importantly……and I can’t reiterate this enough….

Do the worst, hardest, most difficult thing first as soon as your day starts.

The rest of your list will seem like nothing.

I use a couple of programs that you might want to consider, “Things” and “Evernote”. Both programs that my team hates that I use to follow up on them, but love the fact that we stay ahead!

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Tags: Swingley, checklist, leadership, restaurant


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Comment by Andy Swingley on March 12, 2010 at 4:29am
That's awesome to hear Steve!
Comment by Steve Totillo on March 11, 2010 at 10:32pm
Andy, I'll have you know I am now a converted checklist a-h*** as well. I hate to say it, but in my case, business maturity was my holdback. It hasn't been until the last year or so that I have had the discipline not only to do the checklists, but to hold others accountable for them as well. I now seee the value, and for some reason I never did before.
Comment by Andy Swingley on March 3, 2010 at 6:26am
@ Paul.....aaaaah, shucks! Thanks!

Comment by Paul Paz on March 2, 2010 at 10:11pm
At this time in my life... I live by my lists (so I don't forget or miss something). As a result... each evening I rewrite my list for the next day.
PS I haven;t had the pleasure of meeting you yet, Andy, but you sure do seem like a really "nice-a******"! :-)

Comment by Nancy Caldarola, PhD, RD on February 17, 2010 at 12:36pm
My spouse is such a believer of checklists that he has a checklist to make sure he has covered all his checklist needs! Love live the organized person who creates and uses checklists!
Comment by Michael Biesemeyer on February 16, 2010 at 2:00pm
Let's start a group..."The Checklist Mates"
Comment by Andy Swingley on February 16, 2010 at 1:55pm
Thanks Michael...promise not to call you any names as you move to the "dark side" of using a checklist!

Appreciate the supporting info Paul!!

Comment by Paul Green on February 16, 2010 at 6:21am
Ask any respectable off-premises caterer about the consequences of not having an extensive check list.

The Harvard School of Public Health published a study regarding the value of checklists January, 2009.

Hospital Pilot Sites Demonstrate Surgical Safety Checklist Drops De...
Comment by Michael Biesemeyer on February 15, 2010 at 8:05pm
I've always resisted using checklists for all the reasons you've mentioned. However, this may be the year I start! Great post.




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