Getting the Most out of Checklists

getting the most out of checklists

While we strive for excellence in our professions, mistakes are a part of who we are. We err so we can learn. Creating a checklist focuses the mind on the most important characteristics of our tasks, which helps us to overcome our mistakes. It takes practice to produce and use checklists effectively, but when we do, the benefit us tremendously.

Checklists help people communicate and work together better and help organizations to be better prepared for unexpected occurrences. The value of using checklists can benefit every profession, from surgery to flying an airplane, to building a skyscraper or drafting a business plan.

We may make mistakes because we only have a partial understanding of the world and how it works; there are skyscrapers we do not yet know how to build, weather we cannot predict, technology that we have yet to create, and heart attacks and cancer that we still cannot cure. In the case of ineptitude, the knowledge exists, but we fail to apply it correctly. This is the skyscraper that is built wrong and collapses, the tsunami whose signs the climatologist just plain missed, the stab wound from a weapon the doctors forgot to ask about.

Doing a complex job correctly (especially with a stressful workload) demands following a checklist. Better team cooperation, communication, and discipline are the components of getting things right that emerge from the use of a checklist.

We use checklists everywhere

Whether at home or in our work, we have to have SOPs and directions. If there is no checklist to follow, important observations can easily be overlooked.

No matter how much of an expert you are, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes. They help us organize our thoughts, prioritize and plan projects and migrations, and communicate effectively with our teams.

Checklists can increase quality and productivity, and help alleviate a stressful workload. Dr. Atul Gawande, the author of The Checklist Manifesto, said, “A good checklist is precise, efficient, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations.” When creating your checklist, focus on the most important steps or tasks at hand. Whether you use an app, paper and pen, or a checklist software, prioritize by breaking down your to-do list into categories you can tackle one at a time, and stick to what works best for you.


Workflowly is an easy way to arrange notes, ideas, and projects. It is easy to sign up for an account on the site, then watch the short onboarding video. You can create project lists and sub-items to track easy checklists on this example of client site projects.

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You can break a task down into the sub-tasks needed for it.

Another solid task management checklist is Once you have signed up for an account, You can use either Google or Facebook to create an account, then create your tasks and set reminders/sub-tasks as needed.

Having a regular checklist will free your mind of clutter, and help you be more efficient in whatever task you undertake.

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