The Checklist Manifesto


Currently I’m reading (or listening to technically) The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. The premise of the book is essentially this: Checklists to simplify complexity and get things done better. Before I read this book I never thought about the simple checklist as a productivity tool. This book opened my eyes.

When the book came out Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, wrote an interesting review. Here are some of the points I enjoyed:

  • If there is one topic that I have no natural affinity for, it is checklists. I don’t use checklists. I’m not interested in checklists.
  • I read Atul Gawande’s new book about checklists, The Checklist Manifesto in one sitting yesterday.
  • …but it honestly changed the way I think about the world. It is the best book I’ve read in ages.
  • The book’s main point is simple: no matter how expert you may be, well-designed check lists can improve outcomes.

Levitt also points out the fascinating stories from the book. This is a part of the book that I enjoyed as well. Like how Walmart came to the rescue of New Orleans residents after hurricane Katrina and why David Lee Roth really wanted a bowl of M&M’s with no brown ones.

The Checklist Manifesto – Freakonomics Blog

Checklists, Morning Rituals and Personal Productivity

Over the past few months I’ve realized that when I wake up and get out of bed at 6:00 a.m to work on this blog, read or just relax before I go to work at 9:00 a.m I have a much more productive and happy day.  As well as motivation to do good work.

If I had to put my finger on the reason for the increased motivation and productivity at work, I think the few hours of freedom to do what ever I want in the morning just makes me happier.  This increase in happiness and fulfillment then propels me throughout the work day.

My Ideal Morning

Currently, I have a good amount of time in the morning before work, but I can be better.  In order to give me something to shoot for everyday I’m going to lay out my ideal morning ritual:

  1. Wake up at 6:00 each morning.
  2. Eat breakfast with my girlfriend.
  3. 5-minute workout (squats, pushups, etc.)
  4. Shower, get dressed, be “work” ready.
  5. Be at desk/coffee shop to blog, couch to read a book, chair to play guitar, etc.
  6. Be out the door by 8:45 to be at work by 9:00.

Right now I don’t do any workout, sometimes wake up at 6:00 and am more likely to watch TV instead of read.

The Power of Checklists

After reading the Checklist Manifesto I am now a big proponent of using checklists to make processes easier to follow.

So what I have done is put this list of six actions that I want to accomplish each morning into checklist form in Evernote:

I will print this off and put somewhere easy to see in my apartment to remind me of what I need to do each morning.  The importance of this checklist is that the more mental energy we spend try to remember simple things, the less energy we have to tackle more mentally straining activities.  The less decisions you have to make the better.  This quote from Tim Ferriss describes this well:

You want routines for as much as possible, so you can use your limited reserve of creativity for things you actually need them for.  You don’t want to be making a lot of meaningless and small decisions.

Now with my trusty checklist I hope to make each morning super productive.

Do you have a morning ritual?  If so, how to you stick to each day?  Do you use something like a checklist?

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