How process checklists will make you more productive (and how to make them!)
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Want to waste less time? Do your tasks in the most efficient order? Avoid wasted opportunities? Then you need process checklists! Here’s how process checklists will make you more productive, plus how to make and use them.
As bloggers we are constantly juggling multiple projects – and many of those projects are things we repeat over and over again… For example: writing a blog post, scheduling social media, editing photos and/or videos, updating plugins, creating opt-in offers and digital products, doing monthly accounts and so on.
Juggling so many different projects means it’s hard to remember every single step for each process – leading to time wasted trying to remember what to do next, trying to remember how you did something last time, doing things in an inefficient order, or having to go back in and fix something that got forgotten.
How many times have you had to go back into a post and add something you forgot, for example?
Think how much time and energy could be saved if you had a process checklist for each activity that you do regularly!
In this post, I’ll explain exactly what a process checklist is, how process checklists will make you more productive and how to make your own process checklists…
What is a process checklist?
A process checklist is simply a document that records every step of a process. And a ‘process’ is a blogging activity that has multiple steps.
So, for example ‘creating a new blog post’ is a process – it includes multiple steps, such as ‘take photographs’, ‘write first draft’, ‘set tags and categories’ and ‘upload pinnable image’.
A process checklist for creating a blog post is simply a list of all the steps you need to do to create a new blog post, in the order that they need to be done in, and with some way of recording whether or not you have done each step.
The format of a process checklist is up to you. At its simplest it could just be a handwritten list with handwritten checkboxes which you photocopy. Alternatively you could create a list in Word or Excel which you either print off each time or digitally update. Or you could use an app such as CoSchedule, Asana or Trello to create your process checklists.
Which activities should you create process checklists for?
You can create a process checklist for any activity that has multiple steps and which you do more than once.
Examples of blogging processes you might want to create a process checklist for include:
- writing a blog post
- editing a blog post
- writing a guest post for someone else’s blog
- editing and publishing a guest post on your blog
- writing a roundup / crowdsourced post
- scheduling social media
- creating graphics
- creating pinnable images
- editing photos
- editing videos
- updating old blog posts
- updating plugins
- creating opt-in offers
- creating a digital product
- launching a digital product
- reactivating cold subscribers
- onboarding clients
- doing monthly accounts
- doing year-end accounts
- completing your tax return
Of course you may not want to create process checklists for all these activities – but it is well worth creating process checklists for activities you do all the time, like writing blog posts, as it will vastly speed up the process and mean you don’t waste time trying to remember what to do next, doing things in an inefficient order, or having to go back in and fix something that got forgotten.
At the other end of the spectrum, it is well worth creating process checklists for activities you only do occasionally and so are prone to forgetting exactly how to do it, or what the best order to do the steps in is. For example, creating a new opt-in offer or updating old blog posts.
Why do process checklists make you more productive?
Process checklists make you more productive for 5 key reasons:
- saves thinking time
- ensures you do things in the right order
- saves going back and fixing things
- avoids missed opportunities
- helps you remember how to do something
Saves thinking time
Whenever we do an activity that involves multiple steps, like writing a new blog post, we typically waste valuable time thinking, ‘now… what do I do next?’ after each step. It might only be a few seconds – but multiply that by all the steps involved in creating a new blog post and all the blog posts you write and that actually adds up to quite a bit of time. Time that could be better spent elsewhere!
Ensures you do things in the right order
Many processes that we do as bloggers have an order they need to be done in… or an order that is the most efficient way of doing it in. Without a process checklist it is very easy to forget that and do things in the wrong order. Creating a process checklist means you always remember to do the steps in the right order.
Saves going back and fixing things
Creating and using a process checklist also means you won’t forget a step and then have to waste time at a later date going back and fixing something.
Before I started using a process checklist for creating my blog posts, I was FOREVER forgetting a step or two that I would inevitably have to go back and fix – things like forgetting to make and upload a pinnable image, forgetting to add a featured image, forgetting to add tags and categories, forgetting to complete the Yoast meta box and so-on. And so, I would end up wasting time having to go back into my blog post and do the steps I had forgotten.
Avoids missed opportunities
Having to go back in and fix things is annoying and time consuming – but what about if you never remember? Then it means you’ve missed an opportunity.
For example, if you forget to add a pinnable image to your blog post, you are potentially missing out on hundreds if not thousands of potential pageviews.
Likewise, if you forget to complete the Yoast metabox for a post or forget to assign tags and categories, you could be missing out on lots of potential search engine traffic.
Perhaps on their own these things have a reasonably small effect, but if you regularly forget steps like these, the cumulative effect could be HUGE!
Helps you remember how to do something
The other way process checklists can help you be more productive is because they help you remember how to do something. This is particularly relevant when it is a process you do fairly infrequently – for example creating an opt-in offer.
Before I made a process checklist for creating an opt-in offer, I’d often get half way through creating a new one and then get a total mind block on how to do one of the steps – like turning a PDF into a JPG so I could create a graphic, or how to get a drop shadow on that JPG. This would send me down a long rabbit hole of googling and trial and error until I finally figured out how I had done it last time.
Needless to say, creating a process checklist for new opt-in offers has vastly speeded up my opt-in offer creation process – which in turn means I can create more of them and so benefit from additional growth and income as a result!
How to create a process checklist
Creating a process checklist to improve your productivity is not difficult. First you need to identify the processes you do that would most benefit from having a process spreadsheet. Then you need to record the steps you take when carrying out that process. Then you need to make the actual checklist (and use it of course!) And, to get the most benefit from process checklists, it is well worth continually working on and improving them as you find better and more efficient ways of doing things…
The first step in the process is to identify which processes you do, and which of those processes would most benefit from a process checklist.
As outlined above, I recommend you focus on processes you do a lot (like writing blog posts) and processes you do infrequently and are likely to forget some of the steps for (like creating opt-in offers and doing your year-end accounts).
Record the steps
The next step is to actually do that activity and record every single step that you do. So, for example with a blog post, record everything you do from having nothing to having a fully completed, published and promoted blog post. You might be quite surprised how many individual steps there are when you come to write it all out!
Edit the steps
Next, cast a critical eye over the list you have just written. Is there anything missing? Is there anything that would be better done in a different order? Is there any part of the process that actually should have its own separate process checklist?
Create a checklist
Once you have the final draft, it’s time to create your checklist. There are a number of different options for this:
- handwritten list which gets photocopied
- handwritten list in a plastic file (tick off with a pen and wipe clean afterwards)
- list in Word / Google Docs
- list in Excel / Google Sheets
- integrated into your content calendar
- app such as CoSchedule, Asana or Trello
The most important factor in determining which of these options you go for is, will you use it? A digital list in a fancy app might look more attractive, but is not much use if you never bother using it because it’s too much faff! For many of us, actually a simple spreadsheet or pen and paper version is much more likely to be used… even if it’s a whole lot less attractive.
However, if you can be sure you will actually use your process checklist, then using an app like Asana, Trello or CoSchedule can be the most elegant solution – especially as they often give you % completed information and/or integrate in with other parts of your blogging process. (See below for how I do this with CoSchedule.)
Use the process checklist
A process checklist is an almighty waste of time unless you actually use the thing! Get into the habit of, every time you write a blog post, (or whatever the process checklist is for), getting out the process checklist as the first thing you do and then actually using it: doing each step in the order that you have written it and ticking each step off when you have completed it.
It is likely to feel like a bit of a pain, or even like extra work, at the start, but once you get into the habit of using your process checklist, you will quickly begin to reap the rewards of increased productivity and extra time.
Refine the process
The final step is to continually refine the process checklist as you find better ways of doing things, remember extra tasks that should be part of the process and figure out the most efficient order to do the tasks in.
Process checklists and CoSchedule
Most productivity apps, such as Trello, Asana, etc. will have the ability to create process checklists built in to the functionality, and CoSchedule is no exception.
CoSchedule is what I use to manage my blog and social media content, as well as schedule and automate my social media. So, it makes sense to me to have my process checklists in there too.
When you create a new project in CoSchedule, such as a new blog post, you will see a task management section over on the right-hand side. You can use this section to create and save process checklists (CoSchedule calls these ‘Task Templates’.)
Simply type in the process checklist tasks into this section, then select TEMPLATES and SAVE EXISTING. Alternatively, first select TEMPLATES and then CREATE NEW to create a new template from scratch.
Once saved, you can open up and apply that process checklist (AKA task template) to a new project by going to TEMPLATES and clicking on the name of the process checklist you want to use.
As you work through a project, such as creating a new blog post, you can quickly and easily check off the tasks as you do them and CoSchedule will show you your progress as a percentage.
When I start a new blog post, the first thing I do is create a new project in CoSchedule and then open it up and apply my New Blog Post process checklist, then follow the steps in order.
The great thing about CoSchedule is that it directly integrates with WordPress. So, from my CoSchedule project, I can directly open up WordPress, where the blog post I am writing will have already been created by CoSchedule. I can then create my blog post and refer back to my checklist as I write.
CoSchedule also integrates with my social media and Pinterest profiles, so I can create the social media that will use to promote that blog post as part of the same project.
I also include writing my newsletter as part of my process checklist. This means the whole of my blog post creation and promotion can be treated as one project and I have my New Blog Post process checklist supporting me the whole way through, ensuring I keep on track, stay focused and don’t forget anything!
READ MORE >>> How to get more done in less time with CoSchedule
READ MORE >>> How to schedule your social media with CoSchedule
READ MORE >>> How to automate your social media with CoSchedule ReQueue
WATCH HOW I DO IT…
Free process checklists
If creating process checklists for blogging feels like too much effort, then let me do the hard work for you! I’ve created a simple spreadsheet which includes 3 of my most used process checklists, each on a separate tab. Just hit DOWNLOAD to snag your copy and you’ll be well on your way to greater productivity.
More process checklists
Check out these posts for more process checklists to add to your collection
- How to organise your blogging week
- 10 ways to be a more productive blogger
- How to get more done in less time on your blog
- How to create a content plan for your blog
- How to turn your blog into a profitable business
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