Making a coconut cake
Enrolling a student in school
Ending a grading period
Packing for an out-of-town trip

All of these activities have some commonalities:

  1. They have a number of steps involved in order to be complete.
  2. They will happen numerous times, so having a pre-defined list of the steps will serve as a huge time-saver.
  3. They do not necessarily recur on a regular schedule (every week, every month, etc.)

As an elementary school principal, at the end of every grading period, we performed the following steps in the main office:

  1. Allow grade posting
  2. Remind teachers to post grades
  3. Run check to see who has not posted grades
  4. Run “Missing Grade” report
  5. Run Accelerated Reader Marking Period Report
  6. Disallow grade posting
  7. Reconcile grades (Utilities, Grading, Reconcile grades)
  8. Run report cards
  9. Run Honor Roll
  10. Put Honor Roll ribbons in boxes
  11. Send Honor Roll list to newspaper
  12. Run grade distribution
  13. Run failure list

Working through the list was a cinch. Trying to remember everything on the list would have been a nightmare and surely manifested itself in forgotten items time and time again. But where does one keep this sort of information? How does it work into the overall system? Enter the beauty of checklists.

For me, the answer has been to use the Note section of Outlook. Each checklist is a separate note. Here are the checklists that I have in my Outlook Notes:

+Additional Academic Indicator of 95% has been met
+BBSST To-Do List
+Calendar dates have been scheduled
+Calendar for new school year has been adopted
+Code of Conduct has been revised
+Computer is set up
+Distribution lists have been updated
+District Accreditation review has been completed and paperwork submitted
+Evaluations have been completed
+Grading Period has been concluded
+Interpreter for PTO meetings and Awards Day have been secured
+Lee versus Macon Training has been completed
+Packing List
+Position has been filled and new hire inducted
+Professional Development has been planned
+Professional Development Plan has been submitted
+Recruiting Fair has been organized
+Renaissance Place is ready for new school year
+SETS is ready for new school year
+State Superintendent’s Art Show has been held
+STI is ready for new school year
+Teacher of the Year/JSU Hall of Fame have been submitted and winners honored
+Time Management Workshop has been planned

Look at what each one of these titles has in common:

  1. Almost without exception, the title consists of a statement which is either true or false.
  2. As long as the statement is false, there is more to be done.
  3. When the statement is true, the goal has been achieved. In other words, we can “check it off.”
  4. Each statement begins with a noun.
  5. Each statement is preceded by a plus (+) sign
  6. Each title represents a goal which will be undertaken once or more every year.
  7. The exact dates involved with any one of the goals will vary from year to year.

In the next two posts, I will take two of the samples from the list and “think out loud” so that you can see how what seems to be an overwhelming list becomes a set of small, doable tasks which simply become part of my task list.