I formed a new appreciation for checklists when I was learning to fly. There is a checklist for everything, on a nice little laminated card in the pilot’s side pocket. Let me tell you, it’s really important to have that handy when you are pre-flighting an aircraft, when you’re doing an engine run-up, when you are taking off, when you’re setting up for landing—and especially in an emergency procedure, since hopefully you’re very rarely doing those for real.
I’ve found that checklists also work really, really well in managing my business and my life.
We have checklists at Charlie Bravo Aviation for aircraft closings, for what we do when we list an aircraft and for how we follow up with potential clients.
In my personal life, I have, no kidding, laminated in my closet, a checklist of essentials to go into my suitcase when I travel, and I use it every single time. I have checklists for my dog sitter when I go out of town, and my kids will tell you I had checklists for them when they were younger. Checklists are really important because they do four main things for you.
When you’re getting ready to go on a trip or there’s a lot of activity going on around something important, a big change that’s coming, they keep you organized. You don’t miss a step or leave something off. When I was learning how to fly, one of the things that was not on my checklist for takeoff was take your feet off the brakes. I’m not going to tell you that I forgot that one time, because that would be embarrassing. But someone should really think about putting that on a checklist…
The second benefit of a checklist is that it reduces decision fatigue. This is a real dilemma. The more decisions that you make during the day, the less well executed they are. Being tired at the end of the day can lead to poor decisions about how you’re spending your time in the evening. Netflix binging and late-night ice cream sundaes tend to sabotage fitness and productivity goals. Decision fatigue can cause you to forget things, especially the things that you were determined to do or not to do. If you have a checklist, it helps you stay on track without deviating too much from your original plan.
The third benefit of a checklist is that it makes it a lot easier to delegate. When we’re putting together a report, coming up with a new marketing plan, or going through a podcast production, having a checklist to make sure that we get all the steps means that I can delegate some of those activities easily to someone else with confidence that they’re going to be able to execute as well as, or even better than I would.
The fourth benefit is that you reduce costly mistakes. Let’s get real here. How many phone chargers, laptop chargers, or extra belts have you had to buy on the road? You forgot something you needed at home? In aviation, costly mistakes for omitting a step can be deadly, not just costly.
It’s important in business that we go through checklists or processes accurately so that we can deliver exactly what we said we would deliver on time. As we get busy, as crisis happens, we end up forgetting things. So, organization, reducing decision fatigue, enabling you to delegate, and reducing costly mistakes are all important benefits of checklists. Respond below and let me know what checklist you’re going to put into place this week.