Thoughts on productivity,
communication and tech.

Why checklists are important

May 6, 2012  

We live in a busy world and many of us have lots of things to do each day. We need to remember and keep track of a lot of things, both on the job and in our private lives.

This is a challenge. There is a limit to how much we can juggle in our minds at any given time. When you reach a certain limit, it is easy to feel really stressed out and to forget or overlook things.

The checklist is a part of the solution to this problem. By writing down your tasks, and then checking them off as you get done with them, things become a lot easier.

  • Less stress.
    By writing down your tasks, you are in a way transferring them from your mind to the checklist. You free up space inside of your mind, since you do not need to think about the tasks all of the time. Personally, I think that this goes a long way in relieving stress.
  • You don’t need to trust your own memory as much.
    By reviewing the list as often as you need to, you can ensure yourself that you are not forgetting anything important.
  • It feels good.
    Yes, it’s a great feeling when you are done with a task and can check it as done in your list. You acknowledge to yourself that you have progresssed and that you can move forward with other things. The feeling that you are in motion is a reward in itself.

The idea of capturing your thoughts in an external system that you have faith in – is an important part of David Allen’s productivity system GTD (Getting Things Done).

There are many ways of making checklists: pen and paper, index cards and computer software are some examples. I personally like the software OmniFocus, which is available for iPhone, iPad and Mac.