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Standard Operating Procedure: Make a Checklist

April 4, 2014
This will come as no surprise, but I love me a good checklist. In fact, Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto is one of my favorite books of the past five years. Recently, a principal asked me for my thoughts on creating checklists for standard times of the day or common activities. At first I was stumped, but then I realized that we are rolling in checklists around here—both our own and examples from others! So now we shall share. Checklists for expectations: We love this example below from Success Academies, given to the teaching faculty from the Operations Team. It’s simple, clear, and most important, it allows super-busy teachers to complete their administrative tasks in a heartbeat. Energy saved, equipment safely stored away, and supplies stocked!

Checklists for meetings: I love this example from Beth N. in Memphis that she uses to prepare for her week. She took our Weekly Round-Up template found here and modified it to prepare for the week ahead. Her tasks are simple, clear and actionable, which means they’ll get done with less time and energy spent than if she told herself to just “reflect” or “plan.”

Checklists for events: Just for fun, we (meaning Kendra) created the checklist below to help us get ready for each workshop. A checklist is only as good as its usage, so Kendra keeps one for each workshop printed in a binder and reviews them once per week!

It probably goes without saying, but why have a checklist? For me, it’s the insurance that I won’t forget something. Even more important, checklists free up my brain to do the harder work that requires more cognitive horsepower. What areas of your life could be helped with a checklist?