16: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

16: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande


This is a really neat way of setting up OmniFocus. I’ve moved to Todoist (primarily for collaboration with others) but the key insight I’m taking from your setup is that you’ve actually moved your “checklist” thinking up a level: from the level of literal lists inside the task manager, to the level of the UI in the task manager itself. I suppose the next level is your OS and the layout of your desktop. (Perhaps putting the Task manager icon first in your macOS Dock, for example.)

This calls to mind an interview years ago with David Allen on Mac Power Users, if I recall correctly, in which he talks about the idea of a computer system which erases the lines between “tasks” “applications” and “refrence material” in some ways. I don’t really think we’ll get quite there but your example of OF here is a real practical step we can all take today.

Thank you for sharing; I’m going to spend some thoughtful time considering how I have my task manger and even OS set up.


After you’ve figured out your workflow, please share with us. We’d love to share our own workflows and hope everybody can take something from it.

I know that our workflows today represent our current situation and state of mind. Over time, we reflect and revise our workflow to handle new challenges. I know my checklists have changed (got more complicated, become more streamlined, or even eliminated) to match today’s challenges. I would’t worry about making it “perfect.” It’s perfect for today and that’s all that matters.


Largely inspired by your post here, @wilsonng, here’s a quick look at my current Todoist setup.

Note: I am a premium subscriber, so some of what I’m doing here may require that (In particular the custom filters are premium features, I think.)

When? - Priority Levels & Due Dates
I don’t like using the due dates unless the item truly has a due date. Using due dates as a way of scheduling tasks always falls apart for me. So, I’ve decided to use the “Priority” system as a way of indicating when I plan to complete things. Here’s how I do it: Priority 1 (p1) is for items I want to complete today, p2 for items this week, and p3 for items this month.

What for? - Project Hierarchy
I have 4 main “top level” projects: Review, Personal, Family, and Work under which I place appropriate sub-projects and tasks.

Filters: What should I do now?
Combining the previous items “when” and “what for” I’ve got some nice daily, weekly, and monthly lists. The daily lists are “favorited” so they show up in my sidebar at the top, along with a special “Review” filter. Here’s what that looks like:

basic Todoist setup

My current workflow…
I begin by going through the 4 favorited “filters” starting at the top. That means any reviews that need to happen, happen. The other three filters show me what I’ve got left over (if anything) from yesterday that I intended to complete. If those main filters indicate to me that I have room for more in a particular area, I go to my “this week” list for that area. For example, if it’s Saturday and I only have 1 or two items in my Personal and Family filters, I’ll go check the Personal (this week) and Family (this week) lists to see if there’s anything to bump from a p2 to a p1. I also review the Personal (this month) etc. lists with a similar eye, things to move into this this week. Finally, I can go straight into my projects and add items to this month, week, or today. Here are those filters, and a few others I use which are probably transparently understandable:

todoist filters

That’s pretty much it. :slight_smile:


Thanks for sharing your Todoist workflow. I like how you grouped your filters together and when you use them. Good job!