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Creating Successful Leaders

Human hand checking the checklist boxes

I’ll bet you can relate: It’s late evening, you’re starving, you just know that you’re about to be stuck in a god-awful amount of traffic, and the meeting you’re in is running later than you expected. What do you do? Why, you find yourself gazing out the window longingly the same way you did in grade school, just dying for the bell to ring and the day to be over.

It’s moments like these that our desperation to get the heck out of the office can take over, and we end up making the next day worse for ourselves by leaving tasks incomplete.

I know, it’s hard. I struggle with it myself. Sometimes the last place I want to be is the place I need to be, and no truer than when I’m anxious to end a long, hard day of work.

So, I’ve made a little mental checklist that I force myself to follow. I don’t set foot into the parking lot without having first checked everything off. As with anything, it took me a while to get into the habit. But soon, the ritual of it took over, and I found that my drives home became much less stressful, as I no longer worried about things like, “Oh no! I forgot to e-mail so-and-so!” or, “I hope I got that project outline in…I did get the darn thing turned in, right?” What is this end of the day checklist, you ask? Simple, and here it is:

1. Checking up on my co-workers and staff. Are we on the same page? Are we in a good place relationally? Is there any issue I need to address? Never let the sun go down on your anger, the old proverb goes, and boy is that true for maintaining a healthy workplace.

2. Checking off the tasks. Did I get everything done I planned on doing? It sounds like a no-brainer (you may be saying, “Obviously! That’s the whole point of a checklist!”), but here’s the important part: If you did not get everything done as you planned, what are you going to do to best set yourself up tomorrow? Set yourself up for success the next day.

3. Checking out of the workday. Look over your area, organize your desk perhaps, leave on a positive note with your people, and set yourself up for tomorrow. Have you done all that? Good! Now stop thinking about work! Once you set foot outside, you’re no longer allowed to worry about anything you might have missed, neglected, ignored or botched, because you know you went over the checklist. Now you have the rest of the evening to yourself.

Give yourself a pat on the back. And good luck with the traffic.

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