psnews: Make a list: Checking off your career milestones

Checklists are normal parts of surgical procedures and airline maintenance, but Michelle Gibbings believes they are also crucial to career development. Michelle explains why in this article from psnews.

If you’ve ever been to hospital and had surgery you’ll remember that as you get wheeled into the operating theatre there are a series of checks that occur.

The orderly or nurse will ask your name, what procedure you are having, and whether you are allergic to anything.

Once you are under, they’ll use checklists to make sure they are doing the right operation on the right person.

They also seek to minimise the risk of leaving any surgical instruments inside you once they stitch you up (yes, it happens!).

These checklists have seen large falls in mortality rates and surgical complications in hospitals around the world.

Lots of industries and occupations use checklists — aviation, construction, engineering to name a few.

That’s because they save time, money, energy and reduce the likelihood of stuff-ups.

Checklists also have another use — one you might not have considered.

They are a great way to remind you of the key activities or actions you want to take as part of your career development and progress.

Think of them as your daily leadership habits.

Perhaps you need to spend more time with your team, or deepening your network.

Perhaps you need to allocate more time for reflection, or learning. Perhaps you need to better prioritise your work schedule.

So firstly think about the areas in which you want to improve in your career (or personal life).

Then identify the actions you are going to take to elevate your performance.

Now, as you likely know, for something to become a habit it takes practice and repetition which is where the checklist reminder is helpful.

That reminder may be a calendar invitation, a task in your task bar, a message on your phone, or a written checklist that you manually tick off.

Now you may be thinking: “Really. I need to remind myself to do this?”

Yes, when you’re busy and before something is a habit, it’s easy to forget to do it.

Make it easy for yourself.

You’ve set the intention, now put the checklist structure in place to make sure the intention becomes action.

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