Measure twice

Who knows the feeling? The feeling of realizing you had the wrong name in the address bar, or the wrong document attached, or no attachment at all, right after you hit "Send" on an email? Chances are you put a lot of time into writing the message or crafting the document, and you were so spent from the process you completed the final step without double-checking.

And then you had a mess on your hands, as you had to try to retract an email, make a frantic call, swap out the right file, etc.

This summer I made some big mistakes on a few different projects. Why? I didn't have anyone double-checking my work. As someone who is even better known for speed than for accuracy, this is a cardinal sin. But I just didn't feel I had the resources to allow for a second set of eyes on the work. And I got cocky that all the formulas were correct and all the copying and pasting was done correctly. Oops. Of course, the time I spent correcting everything was more than the time I would have used to double-check everything. And the embarrassment and heartache of facing my mistakes was exhausting and debilitating.

I've had this blog post in draft form for weeks, and last week I realized it was time to publish when I made yet another similar, though smaller, mistake. We had to sign several pages of documents for a retirement account change. The printer got jammed, and when I quickly looked, there were what appeared to be duplicate pages, so I recycled one, thinking my printer had printed a regular copy of the jammed page. I scanned the signed documents to the financial planner, feeling confident I had done exactly what was asked. The next morning I received an email that we missed a page, and I had that, "Oops, I did it again" feeling for the umpteenth time. Had I just counted that the number of pages on the screen and compared to the number of pages I was sending back, or had I just reviewed the form more closely to see that one needed Mike's signature and one needed mine, I could have prevented the back-and-forth and the apology!

When we feel as if we are really accurate in our work most of the time, or we wear our productivity badge proudly, it's tempting to not double-check the work. But so often the failure to do so costs us more in the long run.

Haste makes waste. Want to be really productive? Measure twice. Cut once.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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