Q: Aren’t checklists just making self-regulation weaker?

A: Over the years, lots of people have said, “He doesn’t need a checklist. He knows how to do everything and, if he forgets, I remind him.” Parents, teachers, therapists, and other people seem to resist checklists like they’re some kind of weird device only for people with special needs.

They’re not. Let’s think about what checklists are. They make us plan and organize ourselves before we do a task or activity. That’s a good thing. They make sure we work systematically and don’t miss anything. That’s another good thing. By having checklists, we don’t have to use so much working memory to do things. That’s another positive point for checklists. They help us monitor our progress in completing a task or activity (“O

kay, I’m at step #3, only three more to go.”). Yet another good thing. These are the executive functions that make up self-regulation. So instead of weakening self-regulation, checklists are making it stronger.

Now, let’s look at the social stigma of using checklists. Do they make someone look less able? Do they look stupid or open you to ridicule? Have a look at the video below and you be the judge. 

Checklists can make all of us better organized, more systematic, and more accurate and are a powerful life skill. 

Not yet convinced? Watch this video


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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