Checklists Can Free Up Space in Our Minds

journal with check boxes being checked


Are you a list maker? I know for me, checklists are a way to survive. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I find myself making a list of what needs to get done and often the act of making the list is enough to lower my anxiety levels. But is this the only goal of making lists?

In The Onward Workbook, Elena Aguilar suggests an activity in Chapter 7 Focus on the Bright Spots that is called “The Joy of Making Lists”. In this activity, she guides you through creating the Someday List, the Could-do List, and The Later List. She suggests that making these lists will free up space in our minds and help us focus on the bright spots. I love the different categories of lists that are suggested here.

I also recently listened to the episode The Trick To Surviving A High-Stakes, High-Pressure Job? Try A Checklist on NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast. This fascinating podcast explores “the subtle biases that cause very smart and very skilled people to become their own worst enemies.” It looks at a surgeon in surgery and a 1930’s plane crash while making the case for checklists.

How do you use checklists in your life?