Book Report: “The Checklist Manifesto”

blog Apr 28, 2011

I like to read books about success.

Last year I read a book, and reread it recently, called The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. The book describes how a simple checklist can dramatically improve productivity.

It seems at times we are so focused on the “big picture” that the details of life get somehow lost. For example, if you are going to the grocery store, you will probably remember the main ingredient in the dish that you are cooking, but a pedestrian item on your list such as milk might get forgotten. This is because you assume of course you have to get milk. A simple list will allow you to not be forced to remember all the little things.

Although forgetting milk is no big deal, there  are often parts of our daily lives that we forget to do. We push aside what we think are non-significant tasks and we don’t perform them as much as we should.

Gawande takes the reader into the ER, where he implemented a checklist before he did surgery. They would check things like patient allergies, anesthesia, and even whether or not the staff washed their hands.

He also took his readers to the cockpit of an airplane, where the checklist is used for all kinds of potential problems such as loss of oxygen. The pilots have a checklist for everything in this case. The checklist is used so if there is a problem, the procedure can be more robotic in a very emotional situation.

There are parts of life that need to be very robotic. As a marketing professional, I often get caught up in the big picture and often ignore the activities that I don’t like to do. We all tend to gravitate to activities that we are comfortable with or are good at.

Having a checklist empowers you to be more well-balanced. It forces you to focus on everything rather than just a couple of things. Also, it organizes and prioritizes your day and week, or month. I admit, there were days that I came into the office and I knew that I had a lot of stuff to do but could not think of where to start.

We often struggle with prioritizing what we have to do, but if you sit down and make a checklist, it will not only free up your day more, but lessen your struggle.

Timelapse - Lighthouse (Oct 2012) from IMK Digital Multimedia on Vimeo.

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