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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Checklists For Managing Your Life

A study done by the World Health Organization a number of years ago proved that when hospitals used checklists before and during surgery, they significantly improved patient care.


As reported in the New York Times, the average complication rate fell to 7% from 11% after surgeons and their surgical teams were required to use simple checklists.  The death rate fell even more - by almost 50%.

It’s surprising, considering all the technology, intelligence, training and education of a typical surgical team, that something as simple as a checklist would make such a difference.


Checklists for important obligations 

What about checklists in our own lives?  Many of us routinely use checklists for unimportant things, like buying groceries or running errands, but when it comes to the really important stuff, like taking care of our elderly parents, managing our careers, or getting the kids ready for college, we don’t even think about checklists.   After all, these are ongoing obligations, lasting for many years and who wants to be bound by a checklist?  And where would we keep the checklist?  Do we need a checklist to remind us to check the checklist?

But the value of a good checklist is undeniable.  So the staff at SafelyFiled looked around for some checklists that we thought would help our members.  We couldn’t find anything that was, in our opinion, quite right.  Some were too short.  Others were extensive and required a big time commitment.

We wanted something that was comprehensive but not too burdensome, could be gradually completed over a period of time, and would make you think about what you were checking off and why.  So we created our own.  We posted them in the help section of the website.  They are available to members, even trial members, and we hope that you take advantage of them.

Checklists you can use

Our checklists may be a little different from some of the other ones you’ve seen.  They don’t give you tasks to complete, but list documents that you need to save.  That’s it.  But sometimes, looking over a document you’re about to upload reminds you that something needs to be done.  For example, three of the items we mention in a checklist are pension, 401k plan and life insurance documents.  Many of us forget to review these documents periodically to make sure our beneficiary or payout selection is correct. Life events like marriage, divorce or having a child can invalidate selections made years ago - or if not invalidate them, simply render them inappropriate.  (Your family might be upset if an ex-girlfriend was the primary beneficiary on your life insurance policy.) Good checklists for your life can prevent big problems, just like they do in surgery.

Take advantage of them

Feel free to download or print the checklists.  So far we have checklists for Managing Your Family, Planning Your Estate, and Managing Your Career. We’re working on more.  Download them, print them, and check off what documents you’ve saved.  Send yourself a reminder about the other documents on the list.  If you want, upload your completed or partially completed checklists to your SafelyFiled account.  Share them with your family and friends if you think these checklists will help them.

Finally, we hope that you, as members of the SafelyFiled community, will not hesitate to give us suggestions on how to improve these checklists, or give us ideas on other checklists to develop. 

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