Of all of the mental models on the list, this one might be the most familiar and one that you’ve used the most often. How often have you used checklists in your life? More importantly, how often have you ignored using a checklist (like running to the grocery store “for a few things”) and ended up wishing you had?
There are a huge variety of checklists you could create, but they often filter into three main buckets.
This is likely the most common. We have a list of things to do or to purchase, so we write it down and cross them off as we go.
I use a few of these. I have some personal ones for various things (such as a default “travel” checklist), and we employ quite a few template-based checklists for projects that we’re working on.
If you’re getting on an airplane or having surgery, you should really hope that the people in charge are using their checklists properly. In his fantastic book “The Checklist Manifesto“, author Atul Gawande explains how checklists have quite literally changed the world.
When it comes to checklists, Charlie Munger is certainly a fan:
I’m a great believer in solving hard problems by using a checklist. You need to get all the likely and unlikely answers before you; otherwise it’s easy to miss something important.
You can use fancy software or just a pen and paper, but writing out a checklist is a great way to stay on task and get things done without missing any steps along the way.