What kind of list am I making and how do I want it to be used?

Next is a clear idea on what kind of checklist we are looking to make and the kind of way we are expecting it to be used.


Understanding how you want your list completed helps shape appropriate steps and wording for your items.


The DO-CONFIRM style checklist allows more freedom to complete tasks or checks from memory before consulting the list. Once the tasks are completed, a pause point occurs. The checklist can be consulted to confirm that no tasks have been overlooked.


The READ-DO checklist works a bit like a recipe. You start by reading each item on the list, then you complete it before moving on. These should be designed to make sense if read aloud.

Types of lists


Type Good for when to use
Task Standard procedures Detailed step by step list of items
Troubleshooting Getting to the right outcome Time sensitive situations
Coordination Projects Multiple parties need to collaborate
Discipline Enforcing adoption of a process Need to remove emotion (including apathy) from the decision making process
To-do Rapidly changing objectives One off set of things to do (not repeatable)

Task list (Standard Operating Procedure)

Tasks lists are the most common type of checklist. They are used to explicitly state a set of steps required to achieve a result.

They are ordered with the expectation that each step is completed in succession.

Generally they are not used in time critical situations (ie responding to emergencies)

Troubleshooting list

A troubleshooting list is used to help diagnose and resolve an issue.

Given the situation we are in what are the sure fire list of things to do to maximize the chances for success.

They provide a clear set of instructions during a time sensitive situation.

Most commonly these are the kinds of checklists used in aviation to respond to emergency situations.

Coordination list

Coordination lists are for complex endeavors that require touch points across multiple people, teams or businesses.

They act as a central point of focus for a project or set of tasks when the result relies on many parties.

Typically they are not time sensitive.

Discipline list

Discipline checklists are composed to prevent you from making bad decisions in the heat of the moment.

Useful for holding yourself accountable for a procedure that may not otherwise be enforced.

To-do list

Rapidly changing, personal list of things that need to be done.

Know what kind of list we are trying to make ?

Great - lets move on.