It’s like checklist but with a “v”.

Checkvist is my favorite piece of software ever. At its most basic it’s a hierarchical list, but if you take advantage of the full feature-set it can be used by a team for simple project management. I love the light, minimal interface of this tool- it meets my needs really elegantly.  It works on my laptop and smartphone via a web browser- there’s no need to download an app.

Shortcut to m.checkvist.com on my homescreen

I was perfectly happy with the free version for years but eventually upgraded to PRO to access the team and bulk editing features.

Requirements

When looking for a tool here’s what I knew I needed:

  1. A really quick place to throw new tasks so I don’t lose anything
  2. It’s available to me everywhere I go
  3. Easy re-prioritization
  4. Hide things that will distract me like items that are complete or subtasks for something I’m not working on yet

Here’s how it meets these requirements:

Requirement 1. A really quick place to throw new tasks so I don’t lose anything

I have my primary list bookmarked in my browser on my work computer, my personal laptop and on my smartphone. When I’m standing in line at the store and remember something I need to do I can use the Quick Add button to capture the thought before it goes away. This is as much as I need when I’m out and about.

When I’m at my desk I often have a Checkvist tab open so when I am in the middle of something and another task comes to mind I can quickly capture it.

In both these cases I don’t need to prioritize or label the task, this can wait until I do my daily list grooming.

Mobile web view

Requirement 2. It’s available to me everywhere I go

As I’ve already mentioned, I can refer to the same list on my home and work computers, and also my phone. During my day, if I need to check in on what I’m doing next, add a new item, or update an existing item, access is easy and reliable.

Requirement 3. Easy re-prioritization

I always move my highest priorities to the top but information and priorities change constantly, so I need to be able to adjust my list on the fly.  Checkvist features easy reordering with click and drag or using the keyboard arrows.

Requirement 4. Hide things that will distract me like items that are complete or subtasks for something I’m not working on yet

This is a big one for me. When I have a lot on my plate and the tasks keep piling up, if I am faced with everything every time I open my list I will get stressed out and distracted by other items I know are important. Even if I tell myself I am only working at the item at the top of the list, if there is a task with 20 subtasks my brain will start to panic about it a little. So I collapse all the subtasks under the parent so I only see one item until I am ready.  If there are a pile of tasks that don’t fall under a parent, but the line items are starting to grab my attention when they shouldn’t, I create a parent task called “On-Deck” and nest the tasks in there.

The application also offers category tagging and due dates. I didn’t have either of these on my list of requirements, but have found them very useful.

So my daily routine with my Checkvist list is:

  1. Open it in the morning when I sit down at my desk.
    Is there anything left on there from yesterday that I forgot to mark as complete? If I have the hide feature enabled so completed items disappear once I check them off.
  2. Check my email and voicemail, is there anything new in there I need to add to my list?
  3. Check my calendar, is there anything I need to prepare for that isn’t reflected in my list?
  4. Validate the priority order make sense for what I need to get done, when. “Is there anything with a hard due-date of today?”
  5. As I execute each task I might learn the task requires more than one step, in which case I break it into subtasks.
  6. If I can’t finish a task because of some blocker – the person I need to talk to is unavailable, or the check hasn’t arrived, etc. I make a note and move the item down a couple lines so I check back on it at a later time.
  7. Return to the list each time I complete an item and am ready to move on to the next thing.

Progress counter

There is a neat feature only available in the webview- the progress counter. Watching my progress on my overall list is similar to the satisfaction I get when I mark an item as complete. It feels good to see progress.

 

I also use Checkvist to organize notes & research, outline content, list supplies, and track ideas for future projects- I keep this separate from my main to-do list. New ideas aren’t tasks yet and I don’t want to get distracted by them unless there is a justifiable reason to do so.

The one limitation I’ve run into with Checkvist is it is not well known. I’d love to collaborate with clients on a list directly in Checkvist but they often don’t have the bandwidth to add a new tool to their daily workflow. They want to use tools they are familiar with and which everyone else is using.  I’ll continue to evangelize the tool and do my part to hopefully spread usage more widely.