Follow the List

Yesterday I compiled the Excel newsgroup statistics for September, a monthly task that entertains me, even if no one else reads them. Actually, the page gets a few hundred hits every month, so I guess a few other people find the numbers interesting too. Or maybe it's one other person, with OCD.

Pulling the report together isn't too complicated, but there's a long series of steps involved -- export messages from Agent, import to Access using QDN Stats, export totals from Access as HTML files, publish in Dreamweaver.

Use a Checklist

I have a checklist in Excel, and I print that, and follow it every month. Without that list, the process would take at least twice as long, because I'd have to think about every step, and probably miss a few.

Maybe the list is too detailed, but I'd rather include the seemingly obvious items, just in case someone else had to cover for me one month. (If you'd like to volunteer, please leave your name at the front desk.)

I have a few other checklists for things that I do occasionally, and they're real time savers. Most of the lists are stored in Excel, so they're easy to sort and edit, and make nice little check boxes beside the items.

Check It Or Wing It?

Do you use checklists, or is your memory better than mine, and you just wing it?

Could someone cover for you, and get all your key tasks done, or is your business on hold if you're away?

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7 Responses

  1. Jon Peltier says:

    My memory is terrible, but I usually try to wing it anyway. But for things like the various monthly stats I track on the internet, at the top of the data worksheet, I list the specific URL, then the various things I have to click on to access the data I need. Wherever possible I automate the process, too: some sites let Excel call pages directly after you’ve logged in using the browser, and provide CSV or XML downloads which open directly in Excel.

  2. JP says:

    That person reading the stats hundreds of times might be me. I mentioned in an earlier comment (I think it was about the WordPress stats plugin? Can’t recall) that I’m a stats junkie, so I eat that stuff up. Chandoo just posted a to-do list application on his blog, maybe it would be useful for you.


  3. Peggy Duncan says:

    Thoroughly enjoying your tips. Glad to find a blog that doesn’t waste my time! I use checklists for everything: travel, how to’s, etc. But where you’re using Excel, I use Outlook. I have a contact for all kinds of things. For instance, one of my contacts is Blog This. This is where I keep topics I want to blog about. I live inside of Outlook and like keeping everything there.

  4. No checklists for me. Every time I do a complex task that I can’t remember I just re-invent the wheel and figure it out again. Then I say to myself, “Self, you should make a checklist.” But I never do.

    Nobody knows how to post to my web sites. When I die, all of my Web activity will just stop but my sites will remain up until the host turns them off because of lack of payment. I think they’re all on auto-pay, so it could take a while.

  5. John Wilson says:

    I used to be on your list years ago (even at the point where I didn’t have to scroll down to see my name).
    Haven’t looked at it (obviously because I haven’t been active in the ng’s) for a while now.
    First thing that struck me after looking at the list was the abscence of Ogilvy (and Ken Wright for that matter).
    Whetever happened to them? I hope they’re okay.

  6. I only have a couple of monthly checklists and wing it for everything else. My site and blog will last until the credit card expires, then it’ll probably be taken over by a poker franchise.

    Thanks for the link, JP. I’ve got my current project list in Excel, and that reminds me what I’m supposed to do every day.

    Peggy, that’s an interesting way to use contacts in Outlook. I’ve never considered that as a way to organize ideas.

    Both Tom Ogilvy and Ken Wright are doing well, as far as I know, and busy in other areas.

  1. October 7, 2008

    […] Follow the List […]

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