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What Are Your Time Management Methods?

That was the question posed to the room at the recent Ohio Program Evaluator’s Group (OPEG) conference. Each of us turned to our neighbor and started sharing our own tips and tricks for keeping on top of our tasks at work. Some relied on color-coded sticky notes, some on their email and Outlook tools, and others used one (or more) of the many versions of team management and productivity software applications available.

But the topic of this conference keynote was a much more humble and obvious method: check lists. This simple tool has been found to significantly improve outcomes for simple and complex human efforts, from airplane pilots to the operating room. Yet, our speaker, Lori Wingate from Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University, explained that the power of the check list remains untapped for many people, especially experts or veterans in their fields. These folks tend to overlook the simple tool, which is viewed as a training-wheels device for beginners at best, or a crutch for the undisciplined at worst.

Dr. Wingate presented us with check lists her team has developed. These thoughtfully crafted, rigorous documents are a far cry from your scribbled daily to-do lists! Peer-reviewed and field tested, these documents cover budget and contract development, evaluation models and standards, community indicator selection, among many other evaluation-related topics. The development and use of these documents serves as a way for professionals to advance a discipline while also improving practice. If your workplace collaboratively developed its own check lists, what would the lists cover? How would you develop them, and how could they be tested? Let us know in the comments!