A checklist is an organizational form or document used to list items or actions that must be checked or performed, and then note when that task has been completed. Checklists help the writer keep track of everything they must do or gather, because the human memory is not always capable of memorizing every detail.
How to Use a Checklist
Checklists can be used to collect items, follow specific steps, or verify a person’s identity with specific yes/no questions. Checklists serve many other purposes, but follow a few simple rules.
With checklists, it is important to follow a few simple steps:
• Make each item clear and concise, so that anyone using the checklist can easily understand it.
• If your checklist becomes long, organize items by category or necessary timing.
• Make each item actionable – for example, if you write “gloves,” that should either mean “Find or get gloves for this event” or you should consider rewriting the note for clarity.
• Don’t skip anything! Even if you can perform tasks out of order, there’s no point in writing something on a checklist if you have no intention of performing it.
• If you write checklists for others, get feedback from them on how helpful the organizational structure was. If your checklist does not help them, consider using a different format next time.
Types of Checklists
Most people use checklists at some point in their lives for personal and professional reasons. Here are a few examples of checklists you might use.
Personal checklists could be:
• Packing checklists: for travel, camping, moving, etc
• Spring cleaning: items to get rid of, items to keep, items to store in a separate storage unit.
• Grocery list: did you get all of the food listed?
• Wedding planning checklist: did you find a caterer, florist, bridesmaids’ dresses, rings, etc by these specific dates?
• New baby checklist: for busy and tired new parents, this list can help them keep track of what their new child will need.
• Birdwatching or animal watching checklists: for birdwatching or other animal watching enthusiasts, these checklists help them keep track of what animals they saw on a particular outing.
Professional uses for checklists could include:
• Pre-flight checklists for aviation safety
• Medical checklists to ensure CPR steps or surgical steps are followed
• Software engineering checklists to ensure each piece of the software has been written and works together
• Construction safety checklists ensure that all workers have proper safety gear and follow specific safety procedures
• Scientists and researchers keep checklists to ensure they follow all clinical procedures and that their program is on track with the larger study.
Why Should I Use a Checklist Template?
If you have used checklists in the past, you may find that creating your own, especially in your own handwriting, can be time-consuming. The format quickly becomes confusing or obscure as you jot down your thoughts at random. A checklist template can help prevent that confusion by offering specific formatting for your lists, to keep you on track while you keep yourself on track. Download our free checklist template today!