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The Power of Checklists for Building Habits
“We are creatures of habit" ― Edgar Rice Burroughs
While it’s been said that fish “discover” water last due to their total immersion in it, it’s helpful for people to understand the sea of routines or habits in which they’re immersed, so they can begin to transform them.
Per Charles Duhigg in his seminal work, The Power of Habit, scripts of our daily routines reside in the basal ganglia of the brain where habit “circuits” form with or without our conscious awareness.
MIT researchers discovered each habit consists of a three-part loop:
Changing the loop enables changing the habit. A simple example illustrates.
A person may maintain an exercise habit by employing the:
1. Cue - Placing workout clothes, shoes, and hydration bottle by the door.
2. Routine - Running or walking for 45 minutes.
3. Reward - Enjoying the endorphin rush, the peaceful feeling that results from a workout, and a cup of favorite herb tea.
To change this existing habit, he/she might keep the cue and reward, and change the routine (say substituting weightlifting for running).
“Excellence is not an act, but a habit” ― Aristotle
The best way to enable excellence in facility health is by first transforming key habits, aka, Keystone Habits, per Duhigg.
Keystone habits create a domino or chain reaction of positive benefits, and have three traits:
1. They constitute small wins or victories
2. They inspire other habits
3. They energize us.
Per the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, checklists are “important tools to condense large quantities of knowledge in a concise fashion, reduce the frequency of errors of omission, create reliable and reproducible evaluations and improve quality standards and use of best practices.” They should also “encompass checkpoints of major importance, while still providing … [people] with the freedom to use their own judgment.” (Ref. 1)
Facility checklists may include topics such as :
Physical & Fiscal Health Factors
Indoor Air Quality
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Sanitizing and Foodservice
Integrated Pest Management
Physical & Fiscal Area Factors
HVAC and Ceilings
Meanwhile, check out the success story of the B-17 bomber in WW2 based on the
medical doctor and surgeon, Atul Gawande.
Download A Guide to Changing Habits.
1. Development of medical checklists for improved quality of patient care, International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 2008