Lucas Brenner » Articles » The Power of Checklists

Why You Should Use Checklists

Checklists are an overlooked tool that brings order, structure and discipline to daily routines. They are used, for example, in air travel, space travel and medicine.

But checklists are also useful for everyday life. The most obvious advantage is that no work step is forgotten. Tasks are divided into subtasks; processes are simplified and you know what to do next.

In addition, creating checklists can make you more efficient. Tasks are easier to plan and you have a better sense of how much time they will take. Checklists can simplify your to-do list because you don't have to list all the subtasks there. I wrote more about the productivity of checklists in this article.

Why You Need a Digital Template

There are two drawbacks to using checklists. First, you have to invest time to create and improve a list. Second, you often have to make copies of the checklist. If you write your checklists by hand, you will spend a lot of time transcribing the checklist or erasing the checkmarks.

A digital template of your checklists can be copied, customized and checked off as often as you like. The template remains untouched and only the copies are changed.

If you prefer analog lists, you can simply print out your checklists. In any case, you should have a template of your checklist so that you don't have to start from scratch every time.

Which Checklists Should Be Created

Almost all processes can be turned into checklists, but this doesn't make sense for every task. Some workflows change more often or require more freedom than others, so they don't suit checklists. Don't squeeze all processes into checklists, but reflect beforehand on whether it's worth the effort.

In general, there are two reasons to create a checklist: For complex tasks whose individual steps you forget, and for processes you want to develop into a routine.

For example, I have a checklist for the article writing and publishing process on this site so I don't forget anything. I also have a list for my weekly routine in my journal so it becomes a habit.

Another example is my checklist for adding HTML email signatures to Apple Mail. This process includes terminal commands that I no longer have to remember thanks to my list.

What tasks, procedures and processes could you improve with the help of a checklist? How much more efficient would your workday be if you followed the instructions of a checklist?