November 20, 2017

Managing Life: The Humble Checklist

I’m perplexed by our tendency to NOT proactively manage the things we know are important to us. If you’re one of those impressively disciplined, meticulous, proactive and analytical individuals (I am not, yet) who has all your shit in order (finances, relationships, work, health, files on your laptop) this post isn’t for you. Go back to being awesome, asshole 😉


I’ve heard it countless times, you can’t manage anything unless you measure it. Then I find myself eating my 14th cookie for the day and berating myself for my lack of self-discipline and visible abs.


Recently I’ve felt like this lack of conscious-living has impacted my friendships the most. I’ve been consumed by work for the last few months and during that time I not only didn’t call/text friends, but I also didn’t get back to people who called/texted me. These are people who I deeply love and appreciate. Guess who is the asshole now.


Of course, some things need to go on the back burner now and then, some days your business needs more attention than your buddy from high school. What I’m wanting to experiment with though is a different system (fuck, any system at this point) for recording/managing my priorities.


Enter the humble checklist. I listened to an interview with Laval St. Garmain, a Canadian adventurer whose training as a pilot cemented his use of checklists in work and life – whether flying to a destination, summiting Everest or dealing with the grief of losing his son.


Atul Gawande also wrote the bestselling ‘Checklist Manifesto’ where he explained all the benefits to using checklists, and how it helps save lives in the field of medicine.


The basic premise is that you have DO-CONFIRM checklists (do things from memory and then double check the list) and READ-DO checklists (carry out the task as you check it off the list). Checklists shouldn’t be longer than 5-9 items and should contain simple and exact language.


This week I’m going to try out some checklists for different parts of my life. Starting with something as simple as a list of daily priorities. As mentioned in the book – ‘in the end a checklist is only an aid, if it doesn’t aid, it isn’t right’.


Daily priorities checklist: DO-CONFIRM


  1. Exercise
  2. Meditate
  3. Read
  4. Write
  5. Eat healthy
  6. Meaningful work
  7. Practice golf
  8. Foster 10 relationships
  9. Consume/create art

Give checklists a try for a week. There are probably many aspects of your life that can be managed and improved by using a simple checklist.