Recently, The Art of Manliness provided an historical look at checklists, along with a detailed primer in deciding which lists will work for you, culled from the excellent, The Checklist Manifesto. You can implement the same routine in your daily work to help give you a greater shot at success.
In the professional world, checklists are a huge component to the daily work of pilots and surgeons. Detailed step-by-step checklists help fight complacency in the cockpit, and maintain safe operation of the aircraft during all phases of flight, from gate to gate. In hospitals, medical teams use checklists to ensure surgical procedures go smoothly.
To-Do Lists are particularly useful when you have a small number of tasks that you need to complete. However, they can become cumbersome when you have too many items on them, or when you need to progress multiple projects. At this stage, it’s worth starting to use Action Programs, which are designed to manage more complex situations reliably.
Although using a paper checklist is an easy way to get started, software-based approaches can be more efficient in spite of the learning curve. These can remind you of events or tasks that will soon be overdue, they can also be synchronized with your phone or email, and they can be shared with others on your team, if you’re collaborating on a project.