That’s the sound that escaped from my lips a few times as I struggled to make sense of my new software purchase. What a great tool – but worthless if I didn’t get over this stumbling block!
I felt so frustrated as I scrolled through the instruction manual for the Amember membership software. All I needed to do was set up a product using the software. But this seemingly simple task was actually quite complex, and it required me to go into four separate areas of the software in order to set it up. And the more I peered at the instructions, the more overwhelmed I felt.
Enter Cindy Bidar. I hired Cindy to be my navigator through this software, to turn this complex task into something more manageable. And what she did for me was to create a series of four checklists, one for each of the four areas of the software I needed to change in order to set up my product.
So now instead of having a huge instruction manual that I had to dig through myself in order to figure out the process, I had an easy-to-understand set of checklists.
All I had to do is go through the checklist one line at a time to set up my product. Indeed, I used these checklists repeatedly until I could do it from memory. What a time saver. And what a good way to avoid frustration!
Do you have a big task in front of you, one that’s complex or otherwise requires a lot of steps? Then you’ll certainly benefit from using a checklist to complete the task.
So let’s talk about how to create one for you…
What Goes Into a Checklist?
Before you create a checklist, it’s helpful to know what all will be included. Generally, you’ll break your checklist up into “major” steps, with the sub-steps listed beneath each of the major steps.
Example: A task like setting up a blog will have major steps such as:
- Buy a domain name
- Get webhosting
- Change the domain name server
- Select a blog platform
- Install the blog platform
- Create content
- Publish content
The above major steps would form the seven major headings (categories) on your checklist. Then beneath each of these major steps, you’d list all the sub-steps and tasks one needs to complete the major step. Then you can just go through these tasks and check them off as you complete them.
Simple enough, right? Now let’s look at the next step…
How to Create Your Checklist
If you’re creating this checklist for yourself because the task is so overwhelming, then obviously you’ll want to enlist the help of others.
Here are five top ways…
- Hire Someone
Depending on what type of checklist you need, you can hire a known expert to create the checklist, or you can hire someone who’s good with research and technical skills.
If you already know of someone who might be able to assist you, then you can approach this person directly and make your proposal. Otherwise, you can go to a site like Elance.com and post a project with your request.
- Interview Someone
Instead of hiring an expert, you can offer to interview the expert.
The bonus for the expert is that they’ll get resell and giveaway rights to the interview. The bonus for you, of course, is that you get all the information you need for free. (And depending on your line of business, you might even retain a resell rights license for yourself in order to make money with the interview.)
- Ask Experts
Yet another way to get a checklist created for you (for free) is by asking people to help you. Indeed, you may even turn it into a group effort, where you have multiple people contribute to the creation of the checklist.
- Ask people on a relevant forum to help you create the checklist. For example, if you need help setting up a blog, go to the blog’s support forum and request help creating a checklist. Or if you need help doing some other business task, go to a business forum and ask the members to help you create a checklist.
- Ask people on your blog or on your Facebook page to pitch in and help you create a checklist. If the people in your network are likely to know how to do the thing you’re trying to accomplish, then post on your blog, write something on your Facebook Wall or even send out a note to your newsletter subscribers to ask them to help you create a checklist.
You’ll find that when you ask multiple people to pitch in, the work goes quickly and people are indeed happy to contribute. And if you make the checklist freely available (such as when you create the checklist on a forum), then you’re helping not just yourself but the forum community as well.
- Search for Existing Checklists
Sometimes you don’t need to hire someone, interview someone or enlist the help of others.
That’s because if you take a few minutes to search Google, you may find that a checklist already exists. And if you can’t find one, you can ask on forums or other communities if anyone knows of any good existing checklists.
- Seek Help Offline
Some of the above methods can be done either offline or online. However, because a lot of people automatically look for ways to accomplish the task online, I do want to make a special point of mentioning that you can do them offline, too.
Example: If you need a checklist for setting up a blog, you might approach a local web designer and offer to hire or interview this person.
There you have – five good ways to quickly and easily create a useful checklist, which makes any complex task a little easier to accomplish.
Keep in mind that you can combine some of these methods.
Example: Maybe you find a partial checklist online. You can then fill in the gaps by interviewing an expert or hiring someone to complete the checklist. And no matter how you create the checklist, it’s always a good idea to have an expert look it over just to be sure there aren’t any missing pieces.
So the next time you have a complex task looming over you, don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, create a checklist and see if that doesn’t save you time and while helping you avoid plenty of frustration.