Creating checklists

Add specific steps or actions to tasks

Francesca Moores avatar
Written by Francesca Moores
Updated over a week ago

While a task is a single scheduled activity, a checklist contains the steps needed to get the job done.

Creating a checklist

Enter one checklist item on each line, or copy & paste from another doc. Keep the names short and clear, and try not to repeat the obvious.

Click 'Add Item' to create a new check in the list. Similar items can be grouped together by adding a title using the icon highlighted below.

A good checklist is no more than around 15 items long. More than that can become overwhelming for staff and can become a mindless box-ticking exercise. Consider splitting the job over several tasks, and give them specific schedules.

Mandatory items

When this is enabled, every item must be completed before the task can be marked Done.

Adding extra actions

Manager & Admin users can add checklist items on the Complete Tasks page to the bottom of an existing checklist, when completing the checklist, for that specific site.

  • Extra actions can be set to repeat every time. This means you can have one task with a checklist that applies to all sites, and allow Managers to add anything specific to them

  • They can also be one-off actions, for the teams to leave notes to each other

Here's some more on adding extra actions

Flagging checklist items

Teams & Managers can flag issues on the checklist as they work through it.

  • When it can’t be completed (e.g a delivery didn’t arrive)

  • When it’s not applicable to the site or on that day (e.g you don’t have garden umbrellas)

  • When it's never applicable to your site. When an item is flagged as never applicable, it'll be hidden for Team level users, but managers will still be able to see it, but we automatically mark it as "never applicable" each day. This allows them to still complete the task and move on with tasks they can complete.

Trail records who flagged each item and when, so you always have a record and know who to follow up with when tasks can't be completed.

💡 Note: Items can only be flagged as 'Never Applicable' by Admin or Manager users only - See all permissions

Here's some more on Flagging Checklist Items

Tips on creating good checklists

Effective checklists are required for success. They offer us protection from failure, promote teamwork, and drive behaviour change towards a more systematic approach in all areas of working.

"Bad checklists are vague and imprecise. They are too long; they are hard to use; they are impractical. They turn people’s brains off rather than turn them on.

Good checklists, on the other hand, are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything— a checklist cannot fly a plane."

The Checklist Manifesto - Atul Gawande

✏️ Design your day
Trail is designed for simplicity, but it's only as good as the tasks you fill it with. Remember that whatever you do, they'll see every, single, day. If you empathise with the flow of their day, and design Trail around it, you're far more likely to shape good habits.

👶 Start with the basics
Distil your current operations down to the critical actions, particularly the ones related to compliance or replacing paper. Keep them short and relevant - less is more, you want teams focused in the right place.

👣 One step at a time
Group actions into those that are completed by the same person at the same time. If the Assistant Manager does a walkaround of the whole site before opening the doors, that's one task with a checklist on it.

Shape habits
Tasks are scheduled into timeslots so that anything that shouldn't be started until later doesn't get in the way. Tasks are drip-fed throughout the day, so think hard about scheduling for the optimum time. Encourage teams to upload images rather than typing - a picture is worth a thousand words.

😜 Be human
Write in clear and friendly language, avoid jargon, and go easy on corporate speak. Studies show people are more likely to engage with less formal language. And tactical emojis go a long way 😻

💪 Keep on improving
Going live in your sites is just the start. Over time, certain tasks should be removed or updated to keep them fresh and relevant. In particular, keep an eye on late tasks - the schedule is likely to be wrong.


Also, remember that your Managers can always add extra checks relevant to their Sites, so keep the main checklist free from site-specific content.

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