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10 Checklists You Need to Have To Be Asian Efficient

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We love checklists here at Asian Efficiency. They help you get things done quickly and without room for error. Any procedure that we use more than twice is documented in checklists so it’s safe to say that we are a little obsessed with checklists.

Anytime I find out that someone doesn’t use checklists, I look at them weird. “What do you mean you don’t have a checklist for this?” Then I realized most people actually don’t even have just one checklist. That has to change. Here are 10 checklists you should have that will instantly make you more effective and Asian Efficient.

1. Packing for Trips

The first one is a simple checklist for things you need to bring with you whenever you’re traveling. It’s no fun to go on a trip only to realize that you forgot something.

The more you travel, the more you will appreciate this checklist. Even if you only travel once or twice a year, it’s a good idea to make one so the packing process becomes smooth, easy and worry-free.

Here are some things you should consider on your packing checklist:

  • laptop / phone / tablet chargers
  • passport / ID
  • toiletries
  • medication
  • sunglasses
  • tickets (flight, events, conferences, etc)

2. Before You Leave The House for Trips

Ever went on a trip only to realize you left the lights on? Really annoying, right?

After this happened to me a couple times, I decided to create a checklist of things I needed to do before I left the house. I use this checklist about an hour before I leave:

  • unplug all cables, electronics and lamps in my bedroom
  • close all windows and doors
  • close all window blinds
  • remove all food that could go bad from fridge
  • take the trash out
  • make sure I have all keys with me

3. Your Future Boyfriend / Girlfriend

happy couple

I’m not joking here: having a checklist of basic ideals you want and don’t want in your future boyfriend/girlfriend will make the dating process a lot easier.

The key is to not make the list too long. Then you end up searching for unicorns and you’ll be single for life. Here are some ideas to put on there:

  • shares similar philosophy on life
  • my friends like her/him
  • does not use drugs
  • is not a stage–5 clinger
  • has a good relationship with parent(s)

This list will inevitably change over time and through “trial-and-error”, but I can’t stress enough to NOT make this list too long. Normally having a long checklist is a good thing (it means it’s thorough) but this is the one exception where it’s a bad idea. It will hurt productivity in other ways.

4. Daily Rituals

Checklists are also very useful on a day-to-day basis. We recommend that you have a checklist for both your morning ritual and evening ritual which we’ve written extensively about.

A simple morning ritual might look like this (right after you wake up):

  • drink 500mL of water
  • use the bathroom
  • stretch exercises

We have more suggestions in The AE Primer.

Your evening ritual, the things you do before you go to sleep, might look like this:

  • use the bathroom
  • meditate
  • read on tablet

We have more suggestions in The AE Primer.

5. Before Reformatting Your Computer

For the tech-savvy among us, make sure you have a checklist for the times when you need to reformat your computer. Nothing is more annoying than realizing after the reformat that you lost really important documents, pictures and footage.

Even if you don’t do the format yourself, make sure the other person knows what’s essential for you to backup.

Here’s our checklist for reformatting your Mac.

6. Your Favorite Recipes

recipes checklist

This one might be obvious, but I don’t see enough people do: make checklists for your favorite recipes!

I go through different phases of taste. Once a while I’m on a juicing streak, other times I’m all about smoothies and sometimes I just want simple and easy-to-prepare warm meals. What I’ve found though is that I’ll often forget one or two simple ingredients when I go back to a meal that I haven’t had in a while.

Ever since I started using recipe checklists, I never have this problem anymore. That means that my taste buds and stomach are always happy.

Here are a couple suggestions for checklists:

  • smoothies
  • juices
  • salads
  • anything you make once or twice a year (think meals around special holidays, e.g. Thanksgiving and Christmas)

7. The Bucket List

Everyone should have a bucket list – things you want to do once in your life. Whether that’s visiting Asian Efficiency Headquarters, or be in a movie or live abroad for a year – put all these things on a list.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • go on a road trip across America
  • swim with dolphines
  • run a marathon
  • write a book
  • fall in love

8. Maintenance Checklists

One undervalued aspect of things we need to do in life is maintaining things. Whether that’s relationships, email inboxes, software, our own life, our house, and such – we have to maintain them otherwise things will spin out of control.

I call these “maintenance checklists” and you can have lots of them. It really depends how far you want to go. You can have maintenance checklists for your relationship with your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse that can have things like “go on a vacation once a year” or “surprise him/her with a gift” and things like that (I know what you’re thinking, I’m either crazy or a genius.) Here are some other ideas for your maintenance checklists:

  • renewing contracts, ID, passport and insurance papers
  • how to clean the fridge
  • regular checkups for your own life (dentist, eyes, medications, etc)
  • your personal technology systems (think about how you use particular software apps, e.g. OmniFocus or Evernote)
  • basic car maintenance

9. Car Accident

car accident

Speaking of cars, recently my mom got into a (minor) car accident for the first time and she panicked because she didn’t know what to do. So she called me and I had tell all the things she needed to do.

Then I realized, it’s probably best if she has a checklist on what to do for next time. Plus, I didn’t know myself all the necessary steps so I created one for her and myself. Now you can use it too. When you’re in a car accident, the last thing you want to do is worry about if you have sufficient information.

Here’s what my checklist looks like:

  • do not leave the scene of the accident
  • call the police
  • do NOT admit fault
  • take pictures of all cars involved
  • take pictures of license plates of all cars involved
  • take pictures of all people involved
  • exchange insurance information (insurance company, policy number)
  • take picture of insurance papers of the other party
  • take picture of registration papers of other party
  • take picture of drivers license of other party
  • get name, phone and address of driver(s)
  • write down time, location of accident
  • get contact info of any witnesses

10. Anything That’s A Repeatable Process

Anything that can be repeated can be translated into a checklist and I would highly encourage you to have a thought about this.

What are you constantly dealing with that can be streamlined in a checklist? What’s annoying you and how can you make a checklist to prevent that from happening each time? How can you minimize the errors whenever you’re doing a particular activity?

All these can be turned into a checklist – so make your own inventory of checklists and start using them.

Next Actions

By now you’ve probably realized how useful checklists can be. They make it easy to get things done fast and accurately. Especially when you’re short on time, checklists can be a life saver because you won’t have to think – all you have to do is follow the steps.

When it comes to managing them and using specific technology solutions, there are a couple options we recommend:

  • Use Evernote for storing and managing your checklists. That way you can have it with you anywhere, anytime.
  • Use OmniFocus and its repeating tasks feature for daily checklists and processes (we show you how in OmniFocus Premium Posts).

Is there any checklist that you’re using that everyone else should be too? Did we miss an important checklist? Let us know in the comments below!

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Posted by Susan  | January 2, 2017 at 3:04PM | Reply

I’m about to start a checklist for keeping track of my medical treatments and the payments for them once insurance pays their share. Evernote is going to be great for that. I also like the idea of making the list for the rituals. A t least at first, it’ll help make the routine stick…

Posted by Rui  | December 27, 2015 at 11:14AM | Reply

Hey Vanessa,
I was just about to post the same article. You beat me to it.
Everyone should read that.

Posted by Vanessa  | February 24, 2015 at 3:17AM | Reply

Hello, I’m waaay late coming to this post as I am new to this site, but I just read an article in The New Yorker a few hours ago called “The Checklist.” lol It paints a very vivid portrait of the power of the humble checklist in a world where systems have become ridiculously complex, in this case medicine.

If that isn’t a powerful endorsement of what you’ve written here, I don’t know what is! I already keep some of the lists you mention and will try out the others. I think my key takeaway is to begin using checklists more systematically rather than as something I do when it crosses my mind to do so. Thank you!

Posted by Serena  | November 21, 2013 at 4:37PM | Reply

Hilarious. Love it. Perfect for the list-maniac me.
Keep up the great work guys!


Posted by David Wang  | November 21, 2013 at 12:53AM | Reply

Great list of checklists! I immediately saved the car accident one to my Evernote. Would never have thought of making a list for that.

One checklist I have that you didn’t already mention is a baby packing checklist. There is a surprising amount of stuff you need to have with you always if you are out and about with a baby, especially if you’re on a vacation!

Posted by Lana  | November 20, 2013 at 5:33PM | Reply

Yes yes yes I love me some checklists. I use them a LOT and have sometimes wondered if I’m normal hehe. But, I also figured it’s just super efficient and frees up your mind to deal with more important stuff. Sometimes it can take up some time to write down all the exact steps of a repeating project, but I’m always SO glad I did the next time I’m in that situation.

Posted by Kevin  | November 20, 2013 at 7:22AM | Reply

Checklist Templates
I have a notebook in Evernote called Templates where I store all of my checklists. Then the next time I’m packing for a trip or rebuilding my Mac, or adding a new employee to technology systems at work I find the template and copy it from the templates notebook to my Inbox notebook to use it for that situation.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | November 20, 2013 at 12:37PM

I have the exact same setup. Great minds think alike!

Posted by jqmes  | November 20, 2013 at 5:21AM | Reply

I think I like the concept…. We live off checklists at my work… I am not sure about the examples though.

Posted by Radoslaw Pogoda  | November 20, 2013 at 3:56AM | Reply

There’s one missing – a STOP TO DO list you were writing about few days ago.

I did it for myself yesterday and realized it was the “missing link” in my entire system.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | November 20, 2013 at 12:36PM

Ah yeah, the infamous “stop to do” checklist. True, great addition. I’m going to write about this soon publicly.

Posted by Ana  | November 19, 2013 at 7:16PM | Reply

Hey, for everyone thinking that Thanh went crazy, I have been doing the maintenance thing with my partner once a month since March, and I highly recommend it. We just sit down every 15th and talk about how the relationship is going and how we feel. Give it a try!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | November 20, 2013 at 12:35PM

At least one person thinks I’m a genius :-)

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