Checklists, How I Love Thee

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Checklists make your life easier, by making your tasks and processes more efficient and accurate.  If you have things to do that require multiple steps, checklists are your best friend.  Checklists have even been known to save lives

How do they work?  Checklists allow you to not require the use of your memory.  Save your brain power for the real thinking and problem solving work.  Use a checklist to get the routine stuff done. 

If you realize you've left something off a checklist, just add it.  It'll be there the next time you need it.  It's constant process improvement, but requires very little effort.

And let's not forget, checklist are fun (if you are into that kind of thing), because we get that little dopamine hit every time we get to check something off the lists.

Here are just some of the ways you can incorporate checklists into your work or daily life:


Create a packing checklist and never forget your charger again!

  • I use a spreadsheet for my packing list checklist because it's easy to create checkboxes, add multiple sections and fit it all on one page. 
  • You can create separate versions of the list (whole family, just kids, just adults, etc.)
  • You can create separate sections (warm weather, cold weather, camping, ski trip, business trip)
  • You can include a checklist for items that need to be completed before you go on vacation (hold the mail, confirm passport expiration dates, set a travel advisory on your credit cards, etc.)
  • You can even get really fancy and create formulas if you are using a spreadsheet (enter the number of days and nights and the formula kicks out the number of underwear, etc. you should be packing).


Planning events, whether for work for home, requires a lot of physical stuff and a lot of prep.  Create a standardized checklist to feel organized and never forget a thing. 

  • If you are hosting Thanksgiving, create a checklist with all the household items you need to do (clean the bathroom, find the table cloths, etc.) and all the prep you need to do (bake the pies, put the turkey in the oven).
  • If you are hosting a happy hour at work, create a checklist and rally the troops to help you complete it.  Everyone will know what needs to be done and can check off items as they happen.  You won't forget to order the food, make sure enough beer is on hand, or move the furniture out of the way.


Streamline your recurring processes by creating a checklist so you don't forget a step. 

  • At work, perhaps you run payroll for your company.  If so, you can create a checklist with all the steps (gather hours, check for bonuses, add new hires, terminate employees, process garnishments, etc.). 
  • At home, perhaps you have a standard process for paying bills (open all the mail, check email, check bills folder or spreadsheet, pay the bills, file the payment confirmation PDFs, mark bills as paid, etc.)
  • The bounds are really limitless.  Do a mental survey of recurrent tasks in your life that have multiple steps.  I'm sure you'll quickly come up with at least a half dozen processes where a checklist would help you out

Kids' Chores

Checklists for kids incredibly powerful.  They provide a clear view to kids of what needs to be done, they provide a method for communicating completion, and they act as a third party enforcer to ease tension (i.e., you have to do it because it's on the checklist, not because I, as a parent, am asking you to).

The Single Most Important Success-Driver

Decision Elimination? (Or Consolidation!)