I Believe in Checklists

By Don Parcher, The Checklists Guy

Checklist for re-entering workforce during pandemic

May 1st, 2020

David Ostrov, a virologist at the University of Florida, has drawn up a checklist to ensure that the lowest-risk people take the lead when American businesses re-open.

The Daily Beast: Who Should Go Back to Work First?

Checklists come into focus as pace-setter for 737 Max return

October 20th, 2019

Checklists are important!: Checklists come into focus as pace-setter for 737 Max return

2016 New Year’s Resolutions

January 1st, 2016

As you develop your New Year’s resolutions, you might consider trying to come up with resolutions along the lines of the following checklist of categories:

  • Your mental health
  • Your physical health
  • Your financial health
  • The health and well-being of other people
  • The health and well-being of the Earth

Letterman’s Super Bowl party checklist

February 1st, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed David Letterman’s presentation, on Friday, of his checklist for his Super Bowl party. He admits that he’s not exactly Martha Stewart. Here’s his checklist and the video of the segment:

  • Bring up folding chairs from the basement
  • Party ice
  • Learn how to turn on the TV
  • Hire a Rabbi
  • Clean the grotto
  • Get free supply of Tostitos by promoting Tostitos on the show
  • Buy weed for my special guacamole
  • Get the rabbit ears for the TV
  • Invite my parole officer
  • Invite the sound effects guy
  • Memorize Katy Perry lyrics for halftime sing-along
  • Practice not staring at Tom Brady’s eyes
  • Advise guests to show up so they don’t get fined
  • Ask my wife if she minds having a Super Bowl party
  • Overcome my fear of being around people
  • Cancel Super Bowl party


To-Do Lists Are Evil?

November 17th, 2014

Eric Barker wrote an article, How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done, in which he uses a sub-heading "To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything." Of course, this got my attention.

It turns out that he goes on to make the point that to-do lists are just the first step… in order to be productive, action items need to be scheduled.

I certainly agree that lists are a great first step. What you do with a list is up to you. The main thing is that the list hopefuly captures the important items you want or need to take care of.

For some lists, it’s probably best to tackle all of the relevant items one after another, then you can relax with peace of mind, or, move on to another list or task. For other lists, I think it makes sense to schedule at least some of the items. Whatever works for you!

Rachel Maddow believes in checklists too

November 10th, 2014

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Rachel Maddow, on her Oct. 14 MSNBC show, strongly recommended the use of checklists in the fight against Ebola.

In the segment, she highlighted the creation of the world’s first well-known checklist after an aircraft mishap on October 30, 1935. It was that mishap and checklist that I highlighted when I founded Checklists Day about six years ago. Rachel even used the same photo of the mishap that I put on my Checklists Day web page.

If something needs to be done right, a checklist is often the best way to help ensure it is done right.

Google Glass checklist?

February 26th, 2014

After seeing the article at CBSNews.com about a woman saying she was attacked for wearing Google Glass, I wonder if there’s a need for a Google Glass checklist. Google has do’s and don’ts at Google.com.

Checklist for Checklists

January 6th, 2014

There’s a checklist for developing checklists at http://www.projectcheck.org/checklist-for-checklists.html. The site is from the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHQR) with input from Dr. Atul Gawande, the author of The Checklist Manifesto, and also has about 10 medical checklists, mostly for the operating room.

A checklist for social change

August 28th, 2013

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech, here’s a checklist for social change which seems to be intended to deal with the climate change problem but seems equally applicable to issues like civil rights:


Get your ‘stuff’ together checklist

August 13th, 2013

Having just been through the loss of my Dad and my wife’s Dad within the last seven months, I was reminded that there are many things people should do as soon as feasible in case they pass away unexpectedly. There’s some great info at a website which has a name close to getyourstufftogether … it’s here.

Concerns about checklists

April 9th, 2013

This is interesting. I checked Wikipedia to see what it had to say about checklists and, after some paragraphs detailing the use and advantages of checklists, I found the following:

Excessive dependence of checklists may hinder performance when dealing with a time-critical situation, for example a medical emergency or an in-flight emergency. Checklists should not be used as a replacement for common sense. Intensive training including rote-learning of checklists can help integrate use of checklists with more adaptive and flexible problem solving techniques.

I agree.

Soccer checklist for my Mom’s new neighbors

March 28th, 2013

I’m staying with my Mom for a couple of weeks in her retirement community apartment because my Dad passed away recently.

Within the last week, a couple of professional women soccer players moved into an apartment here for the upcoming inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSLsoccer.com) which begins April 13.

It got me thinking that I hadn’t yet posted a checklist for soccer on my site—so today I posted the checklist I created in 2001 when I was coaching our daughter’s recreational soccer team: Soccer checklist.

As always, I would appreciate any suggestions to improve the checklist.

Smartphone security checklist

December 18th, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made available a free online checklist to help with smartphone security.

You can access a checklist tailored for an Apple iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry or Windows smartphone at fcc.gov, and a checklist for general smartphone security is at fcc.gov.

Online security checklist

September 3rd, 2012

There’s good info about online security at nbcnews.com.

Hurricane preparation checklist

August 27th, 2012

CNN has an article at cnn.com which includes an extensive checklist for preparing for a hurricane.

Checklists are better than ‘fake’ innovations

June 7th, 2012

In a May 27 commentary for The New York Times, Ezekiel J. Emanual writes that the Affordable Care Act provides "incentives for hospitals to reduce infections, errors and readmissions," gives "doctors more information on the comparative effectiveness of medical interventions," and, emphasizes "preventive care over expensive services." The law will thereby "stimulate a panoply of true medical innovations" including checklists such as a simple 5-item checklist which "could reduce infection rates from intravenous catheters to nearly zero." These infections reportedly "cost an average of $45,000 per patient, and cause as many as 28,000 deaths among intensive care unit patients each year."

Mr. Emanual feels that things like checklists deserve more attention than many pseudo-innovations, technologies which increase costs without improving patients’ health.


Leaderless Revolution checklist

April 7th, 2012

I was very intrigued by Bill Moyers’ interview last night with Carne Ross, the founder and director of Independent Diplomat, who has just published a book, The Leaderless Revolution (available through theleaderlessrevolution.com), which promotes a 9-step checklist for being an agent of change to help overcome problems facing the United States. Here are the nine steps. After each step, I’ve provided an explanation of that step based on Mr. Ross’s interview with Bill Moyers:

  • Excavate your convictions.
    Determine what you really care about to help you have the strength for the difficult task of addressing that issue.

  • Who’s got the money? Who’s got the gun?
    Step back and analyze the situation. Who has the real power over the issue that concerns you the most?

  • Act as if the means are the end.
    View the form of politics that you choose as the end. If you choose violence, you’re only promoting violence. Consider choosing equality, transparency, true democracy, etc.

  • Refer to the cosmopolitan criterion.
    Instead of following the golden rule and assuming what others would like, ask them, e.g., on the Internet. Often what they would like is very different from what you might assume.

  • Address those suffering the most.
    There’s a moral imperative to at least help those who are suffering, especially since it is easy to identify many types of suffering (e.g., starvation, lack of water, mortality) and since it often takes very little to lift a large number of people from suffering.

  • Consult and negotiate.
    Take into account what ordinary people want and include their inputs in agreements in order to succeed.

  • Big picture, little deeds.
    A plausible and effective way of solving seemingly overwhelming problems in the world is for lots of people to do something small every day towards solving those problems.

  • Use nonviolence.
    Retain the moral high ground by using nonviolent techniques to achieve results. Nonviolent techniques were successful in the struggles for female emancipation, civil rights, etc.

  • Kill the king.
    As in chess, you need to continually focus on your objective, e.g., taking the other guy’s king.

Checklist for elderly home alone

April 2nd, 2012

ElderCarelink.com has developed a 10-point checklist for caregivers before leaving an elderly person alone in their home:

  1. Do they know where the door is located and can they leave the house in a safe manner?
  2. If they go outside, do they recognize where they live and understand how to get back inside their house?
  3. Do they know how to access emergency services? Do they know how and when to dial 911? Are they able to communicate problems over the phone?
  4. If they leave the house, will they remain close or wander off?
  5. Can they get to the restroom by themselves and use it on their own? If not, have alternatives been discussed?
  6. Are they frightened to be left home alone?
  7. Can they prepare a meal for themselves? Do they know how to use the stove and remember to turn it off?
  8. Do they understand how to recognize a stranger and have the judgment to identify who they should allow into the home?
  9. Can they identify danger warnings in the house, such as fire alarms or smoke?
  10. Do they know where there medication is located? Do they have the cognitive capacity to take the proper medicine in the correct dosages?

Increase in autism in U.S.

March 29th, 2012

1 in 88 children in the U.S. has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): CDC.com.

Check out the Autism Symptoms Checklist.

Checklist keeps patients out of hospital

March 24th, 2012

According to a study led by Abhijeet Basoor, from St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan, a checklist can help keep heart failure patients with heart failure out of the hospital and save billions of dollars.

Of the patients who had been admitted for a heart problem and went through a 27-point checklist before leaving the hospital, only 2% were readmitted within a month. Of those patients whose doctors did not use the checklist, 20% were readmitted within a month.

More info: usatoday.com.

Soldiers’ checklist

November 11th, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

There’s a useful, and interesting, checklist for soldiers and war reporters headed for Afghanistan at washingtonpost.com

Pancreatic cancer warning signs

October 7th, 2011

Following the untimely death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on Wednesday from pancreatic cancer, I will create a checklist for avoiding, detecting and surviving this disease known as a silent killer. In the meantime, there’s valuable info at caring.com

Checklist for horror movies

April 17th, 2011

Here’s a checklist for watching horror movies from time.com:

  • Don’t Ever Investigate Or Say You’ll "Be Right Back"
  • Turn Around, Because It’s Always Behind You
  • Never Watch A Horror Movie When You’re In One
  • Make Sure Your Car is Always in Perfect Working Order
  • Don’t Ever Split Up
  • When Haunted, Just Move Out of the Damn House
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes
  • Avoid Proms and All Other High School Parties
  • Always Assume Your Attacker Is Still Alive
  • Keep Your Pants On

For explanations and video samples, visit time.com.

Checklist for a new nation

April 13th, 2011

If you’re thinking about starting a new country, there’s a short checklist at cnn.com.

Checklists thwart malpractice claims

February 4th, 2011

Dutch researchers have found that almost one third of malpractice claims could likely be avoided by using a checklist to avoid medical errors: redorbit.com

Co-pilot Checklist (humorous)

February 4th, 2011

A short and humorous checklist for copilots is at justacarguy.blogspot.com.

Helmets to Hardhats, ‘Good to Go” Checklists

April 21st, 2010

A non-profit AFL-CIO program, Helmets to Hardhats, has launched a website, areyoug2g.com, to help veterans re-enter civilian life by providing customizable checklists covering things from employment and housing to setting goals. Vets can assign some tasks to family and friends and can set up email alerts to remind everyone about tasks.
More info at AFLCIO.org.

Penalties for not using checklists?

September 30th, 2009

Patient safety experts are calling for penalties for doctors and nurses who don’t follow safety practices such as surgical checklists, according to an AScribe article.

Checklists might cut surgical deaths by one third

August 10th, 2009

Surgical teams in Australia will be using pilot-type checklists, developed by the World Health Organization, which they hope will reduce deaths and dangerous complications by one third:
theage.com.au. The checklist is designed to help prevent mistakes like operating on the wrong patient or the wrong part of the body, and, to confirm patient consent. The checklist calls for the surgical team to introduce themselves to each other, ensure no items have been left inside the patient, and, review post-surgery care.

Three checklists for $125,000?

July 17th, 2009

Three checklists used for Apollo 11’s descent to the moon were expected to sell for $125,000 to $175,000 at a recent auction but they failed to sell. They are signed by Buzz Aldrin. reflector.com

Cuff checklist on the moon

July 17th, 2009

The Lunar and Planetary Institute’s website has a photo of an astronaut walking on the moon and using a checklist attached to the left arm of his spacesuit: lpi.usra.edu.

There’s a clearer, close-up pre-flight photo at nasa.gov and a photo in which the checklist is readable at nasa.gov. There’s a nice shot of Buzz Aldrin apparently using his cuff checklist at nasa.gov.

Perhaps we should try something similar on earth!

Avoiding Mistakes

March 29th, 2009

On the March 22nd CBS Sunday Morning show, Joseph Hallinan, the author of "Why We Make Mistakes," said that the best way to avoid mistakes is to use checklists (and get enough sleep and avoid doing more than one thing at a time).

Saving babies’ lives

January 26th, 2009

According to the February issue of Pediatrics, infant mortality rates attributable to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed have quadrupled since 1984 for unknown reasons. I’ve updated the Babies checklist with additional steps to reduce the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Save tens of thousands of lives and $20 billion annually

January 15th, 2009

Another convert.

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the use of a 19-step Surgical Safety Checklist reduced deaths from surgery by more than 40% in eight participating hospitals.

One of the report’s authors, Atul Gawande, says that use of the checklist in all hospitals could save tens of thousands of lives and $20 billon in medical costs each year. The checklist is said to only take two minutes to complete and is based on checklists used in the aviation industry.

The checklist is at Surgical Safety Checklist, and the full report is at New England Journal of Medicine

Checklist in space

November 23rd, 2008

Here’s a photo of a checklist being used in space:

Checklists Day

October 30th, 2008

I propose that October 30th be celebrated as Checklists Day.

It’s widely accepted that the first significant aviation checklist (and the first checklist of any type that I’ve been able to find evidence of) was inspired by a tragic mishap on this day in 1935. On October 30, 1935, the Model 299 prototype for the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress crashed during takeoff at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. The cause of crash was identified as a gust lock that was still engaged. After the mishap, a group of pilots looked for a way to prevent future "pilot error" mishaps. They came up with checklists for takeoff, flight, before landing and after landing. Boeing delivered 12 of the aircraft to the Air Corps and they flew 1.8 million miles without a serious mishap.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that on October 30, 2007, a U.S. Patent was issued for a checklist system to broadcast checklist items.

(April 12, 2009: New page about Checklists Day added at Checklists Day)

Roller skating without a checklist

October 30th, 2008

I used to think that I got my passion for checklists from being a Navy pilot but after watching the video of me trying to learn how to roller skate, I think I might have been figuring out even then that there must be a better way.

The new Checklists.com

October 30th, 2008

We are very excited to be relaunching Checklists.com. I first launched Checklists.com over eight years ago (May 26, 2000) and I hadn’t had a chance to change the site much since then but Matt developed a strong interest in web site design a few years ago and agreed to rework the site. This redesign is very significant. Users will be able to find useful checklists very easily and everyone will have an opportunity to improve the checklists for the common good.

I believe that checklists can very significantly improve the lives of people around the world. We live in a time when life is often hectic, confusing and overwhelming. They can help you avoid early death, injuries, frustrations and disappointments, and, they can help you create, and take advantage of, opportunites for a better life. Checklists can help you take care of things so you can relax and enjoy life. They can help give you peace of mind.

We hope you will embrace this opportunity to help create a resource which compiles lessons learned and makes them very accessible to everyone in an easy-to-use format. Please let us know if you have any suggestions for improving the site’s content and/or functionality.

Explore and enjoy!