Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Advantage of Using Checklists

Do you have tasks that you need to do again and again? If you do, how do you make sure that you do them correctly every time? One good solution, as it has been proven in many fields, is to use checklists.

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is full of stories that show how useful checklists are. In fields like building construction, aviation, and medical, the usage of checklists has saved many lives. And in many other fields, it has helped people do things more efficiently and avoid costly mistakes.

The reason why checklists are good is simple: it’s easy for us to forget things. When you do something that involve multiple steps, it’s likely that you would forget one or two of them. Using checklists ensures that you won’t forget anything.

So, if you do something again and again, and want to do it right every time, use a checklist.
Besides helping you do your task correctly every time, here are some other benefits of using a checklist:

You can save your brain power for more creative things 
Since you don’t have to remember all the steps you need to take, you can use your brain power for something more creative.

You can save time 
You don’t need to spend time remembering the steps, so you can devote the entire time on doing the task.

You can delegate more easily 
If you ever want to delegate the task (for example, through outsourcing), your checklist will make it easier for you to do it. By giving the checklist to the person you delegate to, you can describe exactly what you want.

Now then, how should we create a checklist? Here are some steps I’d suggest:
1. When you are working on the task, write down the steps you take. The result will be a draft of the checklist.
2. The next time you do the task, compare the steps you are taking with what you already have in the draft. If some steps are missing, add them to the draft. You might also want to remove some steps that you think are unnecessary.
3. After one or two iteration without any update, you can assume that the checklist is completed.
4. Put the checklist in a place that’s easy to access, be it a text file, a Moleskine, or anything else you like. It’s now ready to use.

Though everyone’s situation is different, here are some things that you might want to create a checklist for:

Morning routine 
What do you want to do every morning to jump-start your day?

Daily routine 
Do you have something that you want to do every day? What about weekly or monthly?

A frequent task in your work 
Is there something you need to do frequently in your work? For instance, I have a checklist for processing guest posts submitted to this blog.

One thing to remember: your checklist doesn’t have to take the form of a list. One checklist I use every day is my Daily bookmark folder. It’s a bookmark folder in my browser (I use Firefox) that contain the sites I want to visit daily. Every day, all I need to do is opening the bookmark folder and it will automatically open all the sites I want. Simply by opening it I can be sure that I won’t miss anything.
What about you? Do you use checklists?
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