The checklist has long been a fixture of how people manage work. However, productivity experts provide a huge range of opinions as to the best methods for using checklists, task lists or to do lists. And there’s a significant difference between checklists for personal productivity and those used to coordinate teamwork, projects and processes. Which method is right for your needs? We’ve talked about managing your inbox and getting the most out of meeting minutes, but what about the long-time staple of project management and process coordination, the checklist? When it comes to personal productivity, there’s a vast range of opinion and advice from productivity externs. Jason Zook (IWearYourShirt.com) says that it’s best to have many types of to-do lists, to constantly re-write them and break them down into smaller tasks. Robin Camarote, founder of Federal MicroConsulting, outlined four rules for Making Better To-Do Lists, first and foremost being: ‘Pick one place for your list’. Furthermore, she says that one of the pitfalls to working productively with a to-do-list is to ‘Have multiple lists in multiple places.’The take-away from all this is that there’s no single right or wrong way to organise to do lists. In fact, the way that a checklist is used might depend entirely on the project at hand. Since work priorities evolve and shift, flexibility and adaptability in what every method you pick is key, however, relentless prioritization and the ability to delegate to others, and always exclude distractions cuts across everyone’s advice. In some cases, it might be best to have a simple bullet-point list set down at the beginning. Other jobs might need nested sub-lists and be modified more than once after a sudden call from the client. If the expectations on you aren’t clearly expressed, you could end up discarding half-done steps entirely or going back to the start with a new set of priorities and targets.And that’s all for personal productivity. When it comes to team productivity, another layer of coordination is required, and personal productivity apps become less of a strong fit.
Personal Productivity versus Team Productivity
Personal productivity apps like Google Keep, Todoist, and Wunderlist shine with their sleek, minimalist interfaces and are straightforward to use. They are optimized for personal use and do a good job for their purpose. Some allow tasks to be assigned to others, but our research at TeamworkIQ has shown managers who tried these apps for their team decided using them to coordinate teamwork was too time consuming and tedious. When it comes to team productivity, efficient, time saving features for project or process coordination are essential. The effort it takes to keep a team in sync with priorities, getting ready for next steps, and getting things done is high. It’s more than being able to assign a task to someone else in an app. Along with that assignment, the manager and the assignee (and the rest of the team) need to communicate, share progress, work around issues and stay in sync. It’s a whole additional layer of communication and coordination that often keeps managers at work after hours and eats up worker’s time with the additional overhead of meeting to discuss status.Classic project management software, which often also includes checklists, task lists or to do lists, is more optimized for teamwork. However, apps like Trello, Wrike or Asana, still leave the coordination and communication effort to the project manager and team. Users of these products told us that while these apps tracked everyone’s tasks and provided visibility into status of them, managers and their teams were frustrated with the extra time and effort it took to communicate and keep everything in sync in the app. Ironically, to gain the benefits of team-wide task tracking, overall productivity dropped. More time was going into administering and coordinating work rather than doing work.This is the problem TeamworkIQ has set out to solve. Our vision is to eliminate the time wasted in tracking task status, project progress and process coordination so that more work hours can actually go into productive work. And our team at TeamworkIQ is doing just that. How? By creating “checklists with smarts”.
Checklists with Smarts
Like everyone else, we agree checklists are familiar and easy to use. They are easy to create, easy to adapt, and easy to share. They can be used to describe a list of to dos, or a step by step process or procedure. They document a process start to finish and easily show progress made. It’s no wonder checklists are universally used.In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande, chief surgeon for the World Health Organization, espouses the success of checklist driven processes in aviation, construction, and the operating room. However, in every case he cites he also mentions the role of the co-pilot, the construction manager, and the nurse–the human using the checklist to prompt the team and move them through the work without missing a step or getting out of sync. Coordinating the teamwork, project steps, or flow of a process is the time-consuming part for eveyone involved. That’s why TeamworkIQ’s checklists have “smarts” that manage the process for you, keep work moving forward and everyone in sync. TeamworkIQ’s smarts does the tactical work of a project manager or process coordinator so that you and your team waste less time and things do not fall through the cracks. The time saved means more time for productive work, less time in status meetings, less time in email asking “are you done yet?”TeamworkIQ grants teams who must coordiante multiple projects or processes precisely what Camarote recommended – a single place for your lists, and a single point of reference no matter how large your project gets. However, unlike other solutions, TeamworkIQ’s smart checklists save you time by automatically coordinating the processes and communications that move work forward.
Smart is the New Simple
Our goal with TeamworkIQ is simple: Enable you to provide your team with a simple solution for project and process visibility, accountability and productivity. A smarter way of doing things means a simpler, faster way to get things done.