With everything we have going on these days it can be easy to allow things to slip through the cracks. If you have 50 things to do, chances are that you will forget at least 1 of them unless you’ve documented your to-dos or have some sort of list to work off to help you to keep track.
Atul Gawande just wrote a book called The Checklist Manifesto. The book’s main point is simple: no matter how expert you may be, well designed checklists can improve outcomes. He gives many examples of how checklists have improved the performance of surgeons, airplane pilots, rock stars, etc. One of the main points the book makes is that there are differences between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we make because we don’t make proper use of what we know). He suggests that the majority of failures in the modern world are due to this latter type.
The bottom line is that no matter how smart, organized or prepared we think we are, we can all benefit from making a simple checklist and verifying our work against it. This applies to almost everything we do – from performing preventive maintenance work on an air handler to operating in the emergency room to doing the weekly shopping to getting dressed. Yes, getting dressed. As I stood at my gym locker this morning – sopping wet, I realized I had no pants. My options were limited…wear smelly gym shorts to work or drive home and get a pair of pants. If only I had made a list of the things I needed the night before.