Use Checklists More

Why checklists are so helpful and how to create a critical one

Posted Mar 02, 2015

Pixabay, Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, Public Domain

We all should use checklists more. That’s true even if you’re one of the many people who think checklists are too rigid, too confining.

You won’t feel confined. Knowing you’ll remember everything will free-up the brain space to use your creativity…safely.

Indeed, Atul Gawande’s bestselling book, The Checklist Manifesto compellingly demonstrates how checklists improve outcomes in the widest range of endeavors.

We’re not just talking airline pilots, chefs (recipes,) construction managers, and surgeons like Gawande. In recent years, many fields have made checklists core to their practice. One example is the field of evaluation. The website of Western Michigan University, which has a top department of program and personnel evaluation offers three dozen checklists.

Whether you’re a psychotherapist, artist, teacher, or leader, checklists will improve your performance and make your days go more easily.

Creating Your Key Checklist

Here’s a way to create a customized checklist:.

Step 1. Pick a complex, important task that you do frequently. For example, if you're a counselor, there probably are standard things you should do before and during that first session before you branch off into individualized actions. What is such an important, complex task?

Step 2: Write every item or step that need be done to complete the task.

Step 3: Consider emailing your draft checklist to one or more people whose input you'd value. They likely will offer suggestions and/or use the checklist themselves.

Step 4: Try out your checklist. Make needed additions, subtractions, and mergers.

Step 5: After it’s polished, use it!  Many people develop the checklist, use it for a little while, then get cocky and feel they can remember everything. That’s usually wrong. Even if you have a great memory, everyone forgets occasionally. And even if you don’t, as mentioned above, the checklist frees your mind to focus on the nuances, the subjective, and the creative. Your result will be better.

Ready-Made Checklists

Want a ready-made checklist? Check out these sites:

Checklist.com’s assortment of checklists includes, for example, rental walkthrough, search-engine optimization, vehicle inspection, camping, choosing a college, event planning, and business startup.

RealSimple.com’s assortment includes, for example, 50 Little Ways to Ensure Your Home’s Safe, Hospital Stay Checklist, Wedding Packing Checklist and Pet Sitter Hiring Checklist.

Check in?

If you care to share your experience with a checklist, feel free to comment below.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.