Help me to stop making simple errors
August 9, 2012 2:20 PM Subscribe
I am making stupid mistakes at work and I need a strategy to help myself overcome them. Sorry for the length.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have a task that I do at my job. It is a big part of my job that I enjoy doing. I can (and will) literally spend hours upon hours doing this task which I enjoy doing because I have a LOT that I need to do and I like being able to see progress in the numbers of things I'm knocking off my to-do list. I also like the hyper-focus mode that I get into and I don't like to stop when I'm on a roll. If it helps, the tasks are a specific sort of math work on accounts, of which I have around 1000.
As with most tasks there are several different things that need to be taken into consideration/done for the thing to be done properly. Some aspects are more important than others. I tend to get very focused, almost hyper-focused, on doing the important things right that I will sometimes overlook a smaller aspect. The thing I overlook is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but that I have overlooked it several times is starting to look bad. I have ADD and am taking medication which helps me a lot. I used to have a similar problem at a previous job where I was writing reports for clients that often contained a lot of complex financial information. I would spend so much time calculating and recalculating the numbers and ensuring not only that they were correct but that they made good sense to a client who might not understand the more obscure concepts and also that it made sense in the bigger scheme of all of the client's history and dealings that I would miss simple typos in the reports.
It didn't help that I was writing the reports myself and using a very similar narrative (on the non-numerical stuff) across all reports. So it was basically a narrative that was mostly memorized. I would read each report a few times before I sent it but because it was so familiar to me my eyes would skip over simple misspellings. I was doing this again and again to the point where it was a problem because my boss was noticing it. My solution was to read my reports UPSIDE DOWN on the final proofread, which would sort of force my eyes to slow down and read each word separately. This helped considerably though it did slow me down tremendously. I was not on ADD meds at that time.
The task that I am doing now is not a reading one, but is really just forgetting to consider a small aspect in each task, which causes a small error and too many of these can affect certain coworkers for whom these errors make up part of their performance review.
The thing I am overlooking only comes into play for about 1/3 of my accounts and on those 1/3 I am probably remembering it and getting it right 90% of the time. I work on such a large number of accounts though, that the ones I miss have added up to about 5-10 times this has happened this year so far. This is more than it should happen for such a simple thing.
Is it possible to devise a strategy to remind myself to remember to do something when I work on these tasks? I could slow myself down considerably and only work on, say, five accounts per day, but I can't really do this over the long term. There are days when I need to maybe look at 50-60 accounts and I do tend to get in sort of a lull and pattern when I'm doing this, which is why can I forget to look at this minor aspect. I do not need to do this task every day, though I do need to make progress on how many I get done over time.
I'm sorry for the length of this but I wanted to be thorough because of the anonymity. Any strategies you could give me would be appreciated. These are errors of omission (which cause a bigger problem) rather than actively doing something incorrectly (which I never do). This is not the type of task that I can run before a second pair of eyes before I complete it or I would have considered doing that.