The Value of Checklists in Increasing Productivity

One of my main obstacles when it comes to work is staying focused. There a million sources of potential distraction, especially for bloggers and web entrepreneurs who spend a good deal of their time in font of the computer and on the Internet. There are thousands of interesting pages to visit, videos to see, content to read, etc.

Yet, I have found that a good way to overcome these distractions and stay focused is through making a simple checklist of everything that needs to get done in a given day. I have tried dozens of different approaches from downloading software which tracks how much time I spend a day on certain sites like Digg and Facebook and limits my access to these “time wasting sites” to literally blocking sites in my browser where I spend to much time. However, I have found that the simplest solution of just creating a daily checklist, has been by far the most effective solution. Simplicity is bliss.

To illustrate my point I want to share an example from my blog AMBeat was built as the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs. It features advice articles, start-up profiles, interviews, news analysis, and more. Hence, there is a lot of work that needs to be put in to keep the site going strong. I need to write articles myself, which often takes an hour or more per piece, research new start-ups to profile, conduct interviews, find qualified individuals to make guest posts on my website, and more. Not to mention this is just for the content of the website, never mind design and server issues, marketing, or monetization.

As you can imagine, running the website is very time intensive and can get very confusing. Through the use of checklists I have solved both these problems, saving time and getting myself organized.

For AMBeat, I divide my checklist into three different categories, content, promotion, and other issues. I then create a list of short term goals that need to be completed within the next week or so.

For the sake of this example, lets use the “content” category of my checklist. I know that in the short term, I need to have at least five in-depth articles written this week and more planned for following weeks. From here I can make a separate checklist for each article complete with everything which needs to get done for that article (research, interviews, etc.) and the deadline for completion of these activities. With these checklists in hand I can go to work completing everything that needs to get done in a timely fashion.

I have similar checklists for the other categories as well. What this does is create a hierarchy of checklists which organizes all the work that needs to be done. With this hierarchy, I can then create a schedule of what I need to do on any particular day and get to work. Once all the work for the day is completed, then I can surf the web.

I have found that this tactic has cut my work time down by more than half. Tasks which took three hours because I would get caught up with E-Mail and IM, now get completed in less than 90 minutes because I am completely focused. Once I am done with a task, then I sign on to AIM or check GMail.

So, if you are having trouble staying focused or feel like you are wasting time try to use this tactic to help you become more productive. It is dead simple to implement and though it requires a little bit of will power to stay on track, when used correctly it is highly effective.

This post was written by Aditya Mahesh, founder of, a complete resource for entrepreneurs complete with advice articles, start-up profiles, interviews, news analysis, and more.