I do love a checklist, both at home and at work.  For me, it's the only way that I can manage to separate and achieve everything I need to in my week: complete all my work tasks when I'm in the office, plus manage the house and bills, remember birthdays, and make sure my kids have done homework/got clean PE kit/attend the right clubs/take lunch, etc. 

And the feeling of joy as you cross off those tasks, whether momentous or the apparently trivial, and complete your list is indisputable.

Lauren Marchese believes, in her article (below) for  the Trello blog, that this delight can be attributed to the fact that checklists help to instil a sense of incremental success and progress.  And much of this is down to chemicals: 

"When we experience even small amounts of success, our brains release dopamine, which is connected  to feelings of pleasure, learning and motivation... 

Checking items off of a checklist releases small amounts of dopamine that then fuel us to keep checking off more items, i.e. get more done!"

It's clear that a meaningful, robust checklist can help clarify all the steps required towards the realisation of a particular goal or end point. Let's face it, the Oscars' organisers could have done with a clearer checklist this week to ensure that their awards went smoothly: 

  • Best Picture award presenters on stage on time - check
  • nominations for the category listed - check
  • dramatic pause before the winner is announced - check
  • award presenters open correct envelope and reveal winner - oops!

Indeed, don't underestimate just how important to success the humble checklist is. There are those that argue that the tool is critical in today's noisy, fast-paced world to being able to properly order our knowledge and effort, and avoid mistakes. 

In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande considers how professional people - from surgeons to pilots to business people - seek to deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities.  And he "makes a compelling argument for the checklist, which he believes to be the most promising method available in surmounting failure."

As one reviewer of Gawande's book explains: "Whether you're following a recipe, investing millions of dollars in a company or building a skyscraper, the checklist is an essential tool in virtually every area of our lives, and Gawande explains how breaking down complex, high pressure tasks into small steps can radically improve everything from airline safety to heart surgery survival rates."

So, let's hear it for the "to do" list and the simply-documented process. Let's applaud a tool that ensures that there's valuable organisation of our workloads, that there's consistency in approach and a joy in attaining and completing each element of the whole.  

Now to tick off the various tasks that make up my "write and publish a Passle" checklist - hooray!