6 psychological benefits of a checklist

6 psychological benefits of a checklist

On the 30th of October 1935, Boeing launched their most sophisticated plane yet: the B-17 Flying Fortress.

The four-engined bomber was a technological marvel that had spent five years in development.

It represented the very best of American aerospace engineering.

Understandably, Boeing was eager to put on the best possible show for their client the U.S. Army Air Corps.

They arranged to meet them at Wright Field, just outside of Dayton, Ohio.

The location had great symbolism: it was where the Wright brothers had made the first flight a little more than three decades earlier.

Four highly-experienced men were aboard the plane including the pilot Major Ployer P. Hill, and his co-pilot, Lieutenant Donald Leander Putt.

They were ready.

As the crowd watched in heightened anticipation, the aircraft’s giant engines roared and the shiny, silver fuselage gathered speed along the runway.

Just before the end, it climbed gracefully into the sky.

For the first few seconds, everything appeared normal.

Then, without warning, the plane stalled, banked heavily and crashed into a nearby field.

Major Hill and another passenger were killed and the remaining men onboard had to be pulled from the burning wreckage.

Those that had gathered to watch this historic event were left in a complete state of shock.

What had gone wrong?

Extensive examination of the wreckage revealed that there had been no mechanical failure.

The crash had been down to pilot error.

During an interview, the surviving co-pilot confirmed that the flight control ‘gust locks’ had not been released.

This is a mechanism that locks the aircraft’s control surfaces in place while it’s parked on the ground and non-operational.

It’s what caused the plane to nose dive into the ground.

How could two experienced pilots have made such a simple error?

The report into the accident determined that the airplane was “too complex” to fly.

It’s control systems were too numerous for somebody to hold all of the information in their head.

With so many things to think about, Major Hill had overlooked the simple but vitally important task of releasing the plane’s gust locks.

The outcome of this tragic event led to the introduction of pre-flight checklists.

The psychological benefits of a checklist

Beyond acting as an excellent tool to avoid simple mistakes like the one that led to the incident described above, checklists also serve a number of mental benefits.

They include the following:

1. Help you to relieve stress - ticking off items reassures you that you haven’t forgotten something vital.

2. Allow you to set priorities - checklists help you to figure out which are the most important tasks.

3. Act as a form of motivation - seeing yourself making progress encourages you to continue.

4. Create a feeling of productivity - achieving tasks makes you feel good.

5. Create a sense of accountability - relying on willpower alone is insufficient as you quickly lose it.

6. Create consistency - by eliminating the chances of forgetting something each time you do it.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 10/10/10 rule

The 10/10/10 rule