A checklist is a simple concept, but over time different styles of checklist have been developed to meet different needs. Essentially there are three types of checklist. Procedural checklists list steps that must be followed in order; communication checklists encourage communication in organizations; and project checklists list tasks that must be completed. Although checklists are often used in businesses, the common to-do list and shopping list are two examples of how they are used in everyday life.
Probably the most commonly used type of checklist in homes and offices across the world is the to-do list. The list consists of several tasks that need to be completed. These could be listed in order of importance or just noted down randomly. It is not considered a failure if the list is not completed immediately; some to-do lists include long-term tasks or goals.
Task checklists take the form of a how-to list. They outline a procedure step-by-step, listing instructions that must be followed in order to complete the procedure. For example, before you can drive a car, you must first put on your seat belt, start the engine and place the car in gear.
This type of list is very similar to a task checklist, but instead of outlining a procedure, it offers a solution should the procedure go wrong. For example, if a computer is not working, you may consult a troubleshooting checklist. The first step might be to turn the system off and on again. If this works then you stop following the list, but if it does not work, then you continue to the next step.
Also known as submittal schedules, co-ordination checklists are often used in large businesses or organizations where the nature of business is such that no one person can understand the whole endeavor. To deal with this problem, you set up a procedure list that forces different specialists to communicate with each other. The lists require specialists from different fields to submit information and ask for details from one another before they can progress in their individual fields.
Discipline checklists are composed to prevent you from making bad decisions in the heat of the moment. When you are calm and in a reasoned state of mind you compose a checklist of procedures that you want to follow or questions you want to ask yourself during the decision-making process. For example, before investing in a company, you might use a discipline checklist to evaluate the chance of a return on your investment.