Success Secret 4: Embrace the Humble Checklist

Published by Linda Rolf on 3/12/2019 and updated 11/17/2021

4.  Become an Enthusiastic Checklist Advocate

“Systematize the predictable. Humanize the exceptional."

--- Issy Sharp

There is something so satisfying about checking off a to-do list item. It doesn’t even have to be a big deal. It’s just that sense of “done” that releases dopamine in our brains when we do something rewarding.

How often do you have those nagging mental reminders of the things still undone? We all have them, and they can quickly add to our mental muck. This phenomenon is known as the Zeigarnik Effect identified in the 1920s by the psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. It states that you tend to remember incomplete tasks more than those that have been successfully completed.

It is easy to see how the Zeigarnik Effect contributes to your sense of frustration and anxiety over the things left undone. It distracts you from accomplishing the things that are most important.

The humble checklist is a wonderfully simple solution for getting more things done. Each check is a burst of dopamine that inspires more action and positive feelings.

We became checklist fans in the 1990s quite by accident. Since then we have adopted them as an indispensable part of ---

  • New team member onboarding
  • Cross-training essential tasks to build team engagement and depth
  • Reducing the risk of forgotten steps in everyday operational tasks
  • Outsourcing the necessary and repetitive to paper
  • Empowering more team members to contribute to day-to-day operations

  • The list goes on. We have become such proponents of the power of checklists that we even include it as a service in Collaboration Studio B.

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    Start Your Checklist Library

    Make a list of three tasks that you do regularly that you should delegate to someone else.

    Explain to someone why you do each of these and the steps required.

    Let her document each of these and then do the task from her checklist.

    Review, make changes and repeat.

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    From My Reading Collection. You Might Like Them Too

    The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

    Deep Work by Cal Newport

    Jump ahead to all 8 Successful Secrets For Getting Things Done

    I hope you enjoyed your snack!

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    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships.

    She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

    Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need.

    As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

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