ForumsTime ManagementAfter reading "The Checklist Manifesto"

After reading "The Checklist Manifesto"
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Posted: Jul 19, 2011
Score: 8 Reference
So, I've read "The Checklist Manifesto," and it's a fascinating read. It's about a surgeon that invents a system of checklists, in order to reduce the number of errors in surgery.

Well, he doesn't really invent the system - he borrows from aviation, which has been using checklists successfully for a long time.

Now, these aren't your ordinary GTD checklists: GTD is all about things you do once, things that you finish. These aviation style checklists are about things you do on demand. A series of tasks that are repeated.

For a lot of stuff, this is actually a good idea. A checklist before I go to work. A checklist for cleaning house. Not quite surgery or flying a big jet, but I still think these types of lists can help with many of the tasks where we tend to forget things.

One of the issues I have, however, is that Toodledo has minimal support for this. It took a bit of work to come up with something reasonable. What I've done is to place "checklists" in their own folder, with their own goal and a context of "reference." The subtasks repeat "with parent." This puts all of my checklists in one place, with hopefully minimal interference with other tasks.

The thing is, however, the repetition - as far as I can tell, there is no way to set the repetition to be right away - the smallest unit of time seems to be a day. This is a problem with this type of checklist, as it's certainly possible that these checklists can be repeated several times a day!

So, yeah - it would nice if Toodledo supported an "aviation style" checklist in addition to the classic GTD checklist.

And oh, yeah - I definitely recommend "The Checklist Manifesto," especially if you're in a troubleshooting job of some sort.

And yeah - it's written by a surgeon, and he makes no qualms about describing his surgeries in detail - if you cant stomach surgery stories, it's probably best to have somebody who has read the book explain it to you.

Posted: Jul 20, 2011
Score: 0 Reference
I think a checklists feature would be a great thing

Posted: Jul 21, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
I have set up a couple of checklists for travel preparation, to make sure I don't forget anything whenever we go on a trip.

I have a "Vacation Prep" folder in Toodledo, and each checklist is a task, with the contents of the checklist in the task's note.

The important thing about a checklist is that you go through it and make sure everything is addressed properly, not that you click a checkbox.

Posted: Jul 26, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
I read the Checklist manifesto too and I think it's an amazing book. The checklist though is a different animal from a to-do list. It's a brain teaser, to remind you what tasks need to be done in what order when the master task is in ways rather complex.

So, your departure checklist might include checking your Toodledo which tickles you to do that, Then you see that you need your hardhat and boots for that jobsite and you were all set to head out in your very best shoes and your hardhat was in the closet...

Posted: Jul 30, 2011
Score: 2 Reference
I agree Checklists and Todo lists, while seeming very similar on the surface, are fundamentally different. Todo lists are about managing a sequence of transient tasks over time -- i.e. time management. Checklists are about refining a (typically) complex or multi-faceted process -- i.e process engineering. Both involve "what to do" but our relationship to them is different. When we are working on a Checklist we are creating or refining a process. It's a meta-activity. When we work on a Todo list we are *following* a process.

Often the checklist will evolve over time. In that case, it's nice to have a historical record for what was added, removed, or re-ordered. For this reason, and because it is searchable, a Wiki is a good tool for tracking process checklists. We use one at work but I would like to have one for my private / family life too. I've been looking for a portable Wiki tool but haven't found it. (There are many cloud solutions but they require one to be connected.)

Is anyone out there using a mobile Wiki in their private life?

Posted: Sep 14, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
Yes, I loved the book too. I have actually worked in an aerospace factory, and the book reminded me heavily of the QA procedures there. I have tried, with little success, to implement similar checklists (or "scripts") in IT support, but it's difficult because a) techs hate documenting, because b) they think it detracts from the wonderful creative spirit they express in resetting passwords differently each time. I keep trying to persuade folks by telling them if we just standardise the donkey work it leaves bags more room for that wonderful creativity, but boy it's an uphill struggle.

Posted: Sep 14, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
We have a manager here in the state department of human services who "hates" checklists. She's said so in that many words many times. Strangely enough, she constantly forgets things she's supposed to do or bring to meetings. Go figure.

Posted: Sep 18, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
I think checklist can be useful. When we started needing a checklist to keep track of the checklists we needed to check, I thought that was out of control.

Posted: Sep 20, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
Checklists seem to me to be one of the keys of productivity and effectiveness - provided they are designed correctly. And if they keep jumbo jets in the sky, they are probably useful for helping you clean your home. The Checklist Manifesto is a great book, too.

I don't see the distinction between tasks and checklists. They help you get stuff done.

My current job has a fairly rigid checklist for projects. So I have a Toodledo-friendly CSV ready. Each time a new project comes through, I complete the checklist (due dates, tags etc.) and import. If you want to filter by checklist items, you can create a tag for each task called 'checklist' if it is a checklist item.

If you have ongoing projects (e.g., Clean House), you could create new Folders for each instance of cleaning your house, such as Clean House August Phase 1, Clean House August Phase 2.

The much more difficult part, at least for me, is designing an effective checklist.

Posted: Sep 20, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
Here's the article in The New Yorker that formed the basis for the book by Dr. Atul Gawande:

And here's an example of a checklist that had dramatic results:
Doctors are supposed to (1) wash their hands with soap, (2) clean the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic, (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient, (4) wear a sterile mask, hat, gown, and gloves, and (5) put a sterile dressing over the catheter site once the line is in. Check, check, check, check, check. These steps are no-brainers; they have been known and taught for years. So it seemed silly to make a checklist just for them. Still, Pronovost asked the nurses in his I.C.U. to observe the doctors for a month as they put lines into patients, and record how often they completed each step. In more than a third of patients, they skipped at least one.
Pronovost and his colleagues monitored what happened for a year afterward. The results were so dramatic that they weren’t sure whether to believe them: the ten-day line-infection rate went from eleven per cent to zero. So they followed patients for fifteen more months. Only two line infections occurred during the entire period. They calculated that, in this one hospital, the checklist had prevented forty-three infections and eight deaths, and saved two million dollars in cost.
The checklists provided two main benefits, Pronovost observed. First, they helped with memory recall, especially with mundane matters that are easily overlooked in patients undergoing more drastic events. (When you’re worrying about what treatment to give a woman who won’t stop seizing, it’s hard to remember to make sure that the head of her bed is in the right position.) A second effect was to make explicit the minimum, expected steps in complex processes.

This message was edited Sep 20, 2011.

Posted: Sep 20, 2011
Score: 1 Reference

Great story. To those of us who've been using checklists for years, no surprise. That would probably include most of us in these forums. But there are a lot of people out there who don't keep task lists or checklists at all, even though their work involves fairly complicated series of things they have to do virtually every day. I can only guess at the number of manhours wasted every year here in the state department of human services by mistakes that could easily been avoided had those involved simply used a checklist.

Posted: Oct 02, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
I don't see why this would be a Problem, in fact I have a similiar set-up for some tasks:
build a "cleaning" check list with "cleaning" as main and all the other tasks as subtasks.
If you just want a check-list, make it due-date 1.1.2015 and "repeat from due-date"

This message was edited Oct 02, 2011.

Posted: Oct 09, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
I too came across the problem of putting checklists into the Toodledo format, especially for packing for work trips. Problem being that once you check the box the item disappears, whereas I want to repeat it next time around.I went back to my own (simple) design in Excel. Just a list of items and a cell next to it where I can put a Tick. The list can be modified for a particular occasion by putting X next to items i won't need this time.
Any suggestions for a way of doing this in Toodledo, or other apps that can sync across to iPhone etc?

Posted: Oct 10, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
If you have a pro account you can create a template parent task with checklist items as subtasks. Just copy the parent and modify the copy as needed.

Another way is to create the checklist in the note of a task (or Notebook), one item per line. Then just copy and paste that text block into the "Add Multiple Tasks" tasks feature.

Posted: Oct 11, 2011
Score: 2 Reference
Yeah, I find that if it is a simple checklist that takes just a few minutes to review, then a note in the task is better than creating multiple subtasks.

For a packing list, I have too many items to track in a note so I use tasks (not subtasks) in a folder called "Packing". It's overkill to use Toodledo (with many fields that aren't necessary for a packing list) but I haven't found anything that does a better job. I would prefer just a simple packing list that has easy and reliable online sync from my iPhone.

The key characteristic of a checklist is that it isn't "necessary", in the sense that you already have all the info in your head (based on training and experience), and you can remember to do the items even without the checklist. Well, you can remember most of the items most of the time. The question, then, is: "What are the consequences if you don't remember one of the items?" If the consequences are seriously negative, and those consequences have already occurred several times in the past, then formulating and using a checklist is worthwhile, even if most of the time it seems that it is a waste of time.

Posted: Oct 11, 2011
Score: -1 Reference

When I had an iPhone, I had a program called SplashShopper which keeps lists. I had my grocery list (about 300 items) and several packing lists (overnight, a few days, week) and others I can't recall now. I found it very handy as it's designed for that purpose.

Of course, TD makes a pretty good list, if you set it up for that. You can make a grocery list or packing list, but it doesn't work very well if it's in the same TD that you use for tasks. As you said, too many fields in play. But you can open a separate free TD account to use for lists, and have only those fields that you need activated.

Posted: Oct 11, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
Interesting that you mention SplashShopper. It was the closest that I found to a workable checklist but it wasn't very good as a shopping list (not dynamic enough). The packing list was pretty good, but there was no online syncing, and the desktop syncing was incomplete and unreliable. Also, the tech support was not very good.

Too bad. It came close to what I wanted. For now, though, Toodledo is better, and I am using your suggestion about having a separate Toodledo account.

This message was edited Oct 11, 2011.

Posted: Oct 25, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
Without actually testing this thought ... :)

Google tasks. They are checklists, you can have multiple ones. Checked items still appear and checks can be cleared. Web based. My Android app that I use to sync Toodledo also syncs Google tasks.

So not the same app on the PC, but the same place on my phone for this and Toodledo.

Posted: Nov 15, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
Great information in this thread. Before I decided to use Toodledo (mostly because I can sync my itouch with multiple computers), I was using an app called Errands (developed by Yoctoville. It was free, I think-- link: It has a really nice checklist option for any task you create. There is an option that allows you to turn your notes for that task into a checklist [that I think is ] delimited by carriage returns. Although the appearance of the checklists is not customizable (you can't change things like font size), it works very nicely as a grocery shopping list, or a checklist for frequently repeated tasks, imho.

This message was edited Nov 15, 2011.

Posted: Dec 02, 2011
Score: -1 Reference

I met one of the owners of this system

in the train a couple months ago. Unfortunately for most of you, it's only available in dutch AFAIK.
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