Unlike pilots and surgeons, i can’t be sure my checklists have saved a life. They have no doubt saved me a fair amount of time and spared me a fair amount of stress though — even, perhaps especially after hundreds of nights outdoors, i don’t know how i’d manage to pack for a five-day hike (in the middle of unpacking from having just moved into a new place) without a checklist.
I’ve been a fan of checklists for a long time now. I’m particularly fond of my grocery shopping system, which i employ at home as well as on the road:
- Anything i remember or notice i need to buy goes first into an inbox where i collect everything else that asks for my attention, GTD-style (more on that some other time);
- I regularly process this inbox, adding the “grocery store stuff” to the “grocery shopping list” — tomatoes, toothpaste, if i can get it at the supermarket or from the grannies across the street from it, then it goes on that list;
- I regularly budget time to go do the groceries;
- When the time for it comes, doing the groceries is then best described as a mission to complete that checklist as effectively as i can;
- I allow myself at most one “wild card” item per shopping trip — something not on the list because i only thought about it at the store, an improvised treat to myself, or a random new item to be tried out — believe it or not, anything that comes to mind during the shopping process goes into the inbox, and won’t make it into my shopping basket until the next trip!
I acknowledge this rigidity might have caused some psychological pain to the occasional shopping companion unfamiliar with my process. It has nevertheless saved me a fair amount of time and energy — then available to be spent in situations where i don’t mind inefficiency at all — for instance, long-distance hiking 🙂
Featured photo: (un)packing upon moving in ( Fall ’19 )
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