My friend Katy, a legal secretary, swears by using a checklist to keep ADHD chaos at bay at a busy law practice. Physician, surgeon, and writer Atul Gawande likes checklists so much, he wrote a popular book about it.
In The Checklist Manifesto, Gawande dissects a problem that plagues every quarter of the modern world. That is, how can we streamline the increasing complexity of our responsibilities—in the operating theater, in the cockpit, and anywhere else professionals strive to “get it right.”
This book excerpt, below, reminds me of a common complaint from my friends with ADHD: They can’t imagine adhering to any system so “boring” or even “like being in prison.”
Will Using Checklists Really Feel Torturous?
Like an expert CBT therapist, Gawande acknowledges the fear that many of us harbor about using checklists—and scrutinizes any basis for truth behind it:
The fear people have about the idea of adherence to protocol is rigidity. They imagine mindless automatons, heads down in a checklist, incapable of looking out their windshield and coping with the real world in front of them.
But what you find, when a checklist is well made, is exactly the opposite.
The checklist gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brains shouldn’t have to occupy itself with (Are the elevator controls set? Did the patient get her antibiotics on time? Did the managers sell all their shares? Is everyone on the same page here? etc.), and lets it rise above to focus on hard stuff (Where should we land?).–The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande, MD
In my experience, people don’t change until they challenge their underlying beliefs. If you have adult ADHD and consider yourself “allergic” to checklists, you might find this an important read.
I’d love to hear your experiences with checklists. Feel free to leave a comment!
Also Put This On Your ADHD Reading Checklist
What are other ways to transform ADHD chaos to order throughout your life?
In my experience, the first step comes with recognizing the pain that disorganization is causing you or your loved ones. The next step: Adopting a meaningful philosophy of life that guides all future actions.
You’ll find posts on the ADHD Roller Coaster that tackle organization from all angles. Yet, here is a particularly good one: an excerpt from a captivating and inspiring new book from Jaclyn Paul: Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized When You Have ADHD.
Jaclyn’s is a decidedly thoughtful and intelligent voice on many aspects of ADHD, shared through her blog, The ADHD Homestead. We met many years ago—when I discovered a review of my first book (Is It Me, You, or Adult A.D.D.?) on her website.