I would always forget something when I went on holiday.
Often a little thing.
It didn’t spoil the trip, but it was irksome.
I’d instruct myself to remember it next time.
The next time would come. Yes, I’d remember that thing, but I’d forget something else.
Then I set up a page in my phone’s notes called ‘Holiday Checklist’.
I’ve been adding to it and using it before every trip for the last five years. It’s full of what to take and to leave, what to do before leaving home and what to check when we arrive. It’s brilliant.
Checklists are a wonderful way to be more effective.
I don’t use them because I’m stupid. I use them because of I know the two errors.
In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande makes a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we just don’t know enough) and errors of ineptitude (the mistakes we make because we don’t make use of what we know).
You’d have to be stupid to forget the same things to take on holiday when the solution is as simple as a list.
We have mental checklists too. My wife always ‘puts the house to bed’. It’s a memorised list where she ensures what should be secure is shut, what shouldn’t be on is off and around 700* other compulsions and traditions to be checked off before a good night’s rest.
Could I shop without a list? No! I’m a 55-year-old man – I need a list and a map.
The last time I went to Aldi for a couple of items without a list, I got stuck in the famed middle aisle and came home with a set of welding goggles, 128 jumbo pegs and a horse box.
And still forgot the milk.
Checklists have a serious side too.
Would you fly on a plane where the pilot relied on a pre-flight ‘see what I can remember list’?
Or be happy with a surgeon who was… pretty certain they’d taken everything out they’d put in? It’s life and death not a Kim’s Game.
There’s nothing wrong, and a lot right, with having a checklist.
What’s on yours?
Please share how you use checklists below. I’ll send a copy of Atul Gawande’s brilliant book The Checklist Manifesto to our favourite.