I’ve been talking a lot about dynamic lists recently, and it may have occurred to some of my readers to wonder what’s wrong with the good old checklist.
In fact, what’s the difference between the two anyway?
To answer the second question first, the difference is that a dynamic list is made fresh every day, while a check-list remains the same from day to day and will get amended only occasionally.
So again, what’s wrong with check-lists?
The answer is that there is nothing wrong with them at all. In fact they form one of the staples of good time management. In Secrets of Productive People I stress how important it is to build up good routines and systems - and frequently a checklist is the most effective way of ensuring that you stick to a routine.
I’ve described already how parts of a dynamic list can solidify into a constant routine. At this stage it turns into what is basically a mental checklist. There’s usually no real need to write it down because by this time it has become internalized. The exception of course is if you need to share it with someone else.
However most checklists are the result of codifying good practice. Some examples of checklists include :
A very simple checklist which deserves to be pinned up in everyone’s house or office space is the checklist for doing any task:
- Put Away
No task is finished until Step 3 is completed. Paying more attention to this step would save an awful lot of untidiness and disorder at very little cost.