Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quality is Job #1

My mom used to say, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when are you going to find the time to do it again?” This was often said when I’d throw the covers up on the bed and call it made or when I would ‘clean’ my room by shoving the junk under the bed (she’d always find it). Ultimately, I’d have to make the bed correctly or fish everything out from under the bed and put it where it belonged. It took more time and more effort this way and eventually I learned the lesson.

On a daily basis, at work and just going through life, I come across people who try to minimize their workloads by cutting corners. The common excuse is time. Ironically these people end up doing more work because, they have to do things over or they spend time fixing errors or handling problems that they wouldn’t have encountered if they just did it right the first time.

It may seem faster to do things this way but it takes longer. Reading an email completely might take an extra 20 seconds but (depending on the email) it can save hours of time doing things over.

Taking a moment to proofread or looking something over can catch costly mistakes and avoid misunderstanding.

Asking questions or clarifying what someone needs might take an extra few minutes but it can save a ton of work on the backend.

Finally confronting procrastination and diving in to the tasks you don’t want to do can save time, money and headaches. Here are three techniques I use to banish procrastination.

  1. The Sandwich: I usually try to sandwich unpleasant tasks between two more enjoyable (or at least bearable!) tasks. 
  2. The Focused Fifteen: This is where I set a timer or look at the clock and agree to do the task for at least 15 minutes. After that time is up, I’ve usually overcome the inertia of getting started and have some momentum going so I don’t mind continuing. Otherwise, I will stop or do another fifteen.
  3. The Countdown: This one is great if you have something repetitive like making phone calls, grading papers or other items that you have to complete a lot of. I will take a sheet of paper and write down the numbers in reverse order (20 to 1 or ten to one) and as I finish each call or complete each item, I will cross it off the list. After my first phone call, I’ll cross off the number 20 and know I have 19 more calls and so on. Putting the numbers in reverse order shows you how close you are to being done.
As mom would have said, I job worth doing is a job worth doing well … if not, you will be doing it again!

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