My friend Katy, at 18Channels.com, swears by checklists to keep the ADHD chaos at bay. 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 can 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 “anal.”
Like an expert CBT therapist, Gawande acknowledges the fear 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—but especially people with ADHD—don’t change until they challenge their underlying beliefs. If you consider yourself “allergic” to lists, this might be an important read for you.