Is there a trick of your trade that you always do, even if the results are not noticed?
May 17, 2012 12:31 PM   Subscribe

In your given field, is there one thing that you always do that may be overlooked but you consider it important? It may not be obvious, but it makes your work higher quality and/or more efficient and you can't imagine being happy with the work if you didn't do it.

Example: A friend that works at a bike shop always cleans the tires before the customer picks it up, because it makes the bike look nicer.
posted by monkeystronghold to Work & Money (56 answers total) 117 users marked this as a favorite
Print-previewing excel worksheets before sending them, to ensure that they'll print nicely. Tiny, but very considerate.

Sending a response to almost every email within an hour, even if it's just to say, "I can't do this," or "I'll get back to you tomorrow."
posted by punchtothehead at 12:34 PM on May 17, 2012 [12 favorites]

Excel jockey: making my Excel files standardized and "nice" looking. Also making sure to save on the relavant tab and the top left cell, so whoever opens the document down the line isn't confused. It takes a tiny bit more time but makes the output subtly more professional and compelling.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:34 PM on May 17, 2012 [11 favorites]

I'm a writer/editor and, before I call a piece done, I always do a reading pass that is solely focused on commas. I look at every comma and ask it to justify its existence. I'm not sure anyone but me cares.
posted by 256 at 12:34 PM on May 17, 2012 [18 favorites]

I always make sure my HTML is properly indented.
posted by michaelh at 12:36 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Spell-check. Let's just say I learned the hard way.

Also I have a 5-minute delay built into my email Send function. That has saved my bacon more than once.
posted by LonnieK at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2012 [13 favorites]

I'm a Software Test Engineer.

You would think that writing out all the steps on how I found the bug would be basic knowledge, but it's amazing how many testers don't do this. So, I always make sure to detail and number the steps that I took to find the problem, in detail.

The Devs really appreciate this.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:39 PM on May 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm a writer/editor and,

Pretty much everything an editor does goes unnoticed by others, which is as it should be even though it means a constant struggle to justify the expense of an editor.

Therefore even though I am the editor, I never trust myself to proof my own work. A trusted colleague who isn't directly involved with my projects proofs everything before it goes out the door.
posted by headnsouth at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm a land use economist who prepares market analyses for diverse real estate and cultural products. It's relatively easy to find performance indicators and other background information about successful comparable projects; it's very difficult to investigate the failures. Ignoring the failures introduces huge bias into the analysis; only examining successes leads to invalid conclusions about the region's ability to absorb/support an additional entrant. Understanding why failures happen--e.g., site/building flaw, operator shortcomings or market demand issue--is critical to understanding the prospects for success.
posted by carmicha at 12:51 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

As an editor of both text and presentation materials, I always, ALWAYS send materials to a second set of eyes to look at before I consider something "final."
posted by xingcat at 1:04 PM on May 17, 2012

I am a health care IT person. I often talk to people who are health care professionals but not IT people. I always remember that they are not IT people and never talk to them as if they are. No buzzwords, nothing that they're not going to understand. I might sometimes get frustrated that they sit at a computer for eight hours a day yet do not understand the concept of a folder, but I constantly remind myself that they are good at what really matters about their job, stuff that I cannot understand.

It amazes me how many IT people don't get this. You just can't send these people a .zip file and expect most will know what to do with it.
posted by bondcliff at 1:04 PM on May 17, 2012 [25 favorites]

I'm a paralegal and my job centers on writing responses to various requests. I have a system of acronyms for the various types of laws, statutes, etc that I cite in each response. I label my saved files accordingly (e.g. John Doe letter -- ABC) so I can always find the language about issue A, B, or C in the future.

Also, I always thank everyone for what they do for me, no matter how small.
posted by mlle valentine at 1:09 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm a software developer, and I am constantly amazed at how many devs just code away day in and day out without ever taking five seconds to leave a goddam comment as to wtf they're doing in the code. Comment your code, people!
posted by trip and a half at 1:20 PM on May 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm a teacher at a residential school and I make a point to send weekly updates to all my parents about something good their kid did over the week. Other teachers don't do this.
posted by kinetic at 1:22 PM on May 17, 2012 [15 favorites]

In my role as a stage manager, I would often say that if anyone in the audience saw me doing anything at all, I was doing it wrong. My ENTIRE job was pretty much invisible.

But there were a lot of little "only I knew" things:

* Part of the job involves putting little glow-in-the-dark bits of tape on the stage to let actors find their way to doors, around walls, up stairs, etc. in a hurry when the lights were out. I tried to put as many little such dots as I could (I often joked to casts each new show that "I like it to be possible to land planes on the sets if necessary"). It became second-nature for the casts after the second rehearsal, but it was still A Good Thing.

* I made sure to keep the most well-stocked first aid kit I possibly could (and raided my day job's first aid supply cabinet sometimes to stock up sometimes, shh); I even made sure it had a couple Hershey's Kisses in it in case I ever had a cast member who was diabetic. (Never had to use it, and usually I ended up eating it at the end of each show and had to get a new one.) Fortunately the first aid kit rarely got used, but it saved a lot of time to just reach into a bag and hand someone something no matter what kind of "do you have a [ ]?" question a cast member threw at me. (And when I was in a rehearsal where a cast member cut himself nearly to the bone on a prop knife and we had to stop and send him to the ER, we were able to do first-aid triage with my kit first. All the better, because the theater venue itself didn't have one!)

* this last one was only just for my own amusement: whenever there was some kind of a paper prop for the show, be it a letter, a note, a sign, or something like that, I would always, always make it as authentic-looking as possible. I'd never do what that guy did with the letter on Leave It To Beaver - nope, my prop letters always were germane to the plot of the play, and included the text of whatever they were supposed to say. I often even wrote them up on fancy stationery and in a font that looked like handwriting, even.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:38 PM on May 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm a labor and delivery nurse, and I tell every woman who gives birth in my presence that she did a fantastic job.

I say it if she spent her whole pregnancy taking drugs to which her baby is now addicted and from which it will spend weeks in agonizing withdrawal, or if she never once went to a prenatal care appointment.

I say it if she accuses me of incompetence and threatens to sue me because I won't just "reach up there and pull the damn baby out."

I say it if she was never tested for gestational diabetes because she equates the sugary drink with "child abuse."

I say it if her birth plan was pages and pages of single-spaced paranoia about all the horrible things she's sure I'm going to do to her and her baby without her consent because I am part of the medicalization of birth and therefore obviously not to be trusted and she and her partner give me the stony silent treatment the whole time.

I say it if she doesn't want to breastfeed because her baby daddy thinks "those titties are his."

I say it because every single woman who gives birth did something extraordinary, and deserves to know it.
posted by jesourie at 1:42 PM on May 17, 2012 [42 favorites]

Oh, I forgot one:

* Too many productions don't insist on rigid safety procedures if a show involves a prop gun, even if it's just a cap gun or a starter's pistol. I did. I would even refrain from dropping the f-bomb in rehearsals on those productions, saving it until the day when we finally introduced the gun -- because I would preface that with a "gun safety rules" lecture, which always concluded with a stern warning that aside from the two or three people authorized to touch it, "No one else is allowed to fuck around with the gun." People weren't visibly shocked, but they were usually subconsciously thrown that "wow, she acutally said 'fuck'" that they took my words to heart.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [14 favorites]

Lots of love to my Subject Matter Experts. Cater to their any request for meeting or suggestion (unless it's total crazy) that gets me face time / brain time with them. Take copious notes so I don't have to keep bugging them. Ask detailed questions with scenario answers to pick from if I can so I don't get back terse little "wtf are you talking about" replies. Thank profusely. Provide cookies if applicable.
posted by tilde at 1:48 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm a voice user interface designer. I like to have elegant and uncluttered Visio callflows and will spread them out into smaller logical sections rather than cramming it all into a few pages.
posted by Dragonness at 1:53 PM on May 17, 2012

Meeting minutes: Include every frickin thing said in the notes because it's that one offhand remark that will be the important one you'll need. Send out minutes promptly for additions or corrections. (Rarely does anyone comment. If comments are forthcoming you can bet it's gonna be an important item.)

I hate doing minutes but since nobody else does them, I find they've saved my bacon enough times that they are invaluable.
posted by mightshould at 2:11 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

When I was a teenager, I used to detail cars. There were a lot of little things that a customer wound't notice unless he compared his car with another car that didn't have these little things done.


- After shampooing the carpet, we would leave "stripes" by brushing rows in the carpet in alternate directions. We even did this if we were putting a floor mat over it.

- After we put the stuff on the tires to makes them shiny, we'd pull the car up a little so that we could get the part that was previously touching the ground.
posted by photovox at 2:16 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

On excel spreadsheets that are updated periodically, besides putting the date in the footer I put the file name and path in a tiny font. Anyone coming behind me can pick up where I left off.
posted by readery at 2:22 PM on May 17, 2012

I'm an academic. Whenever I cite a website, I use to archive the site and provide that URL (in addition to the original) in my reference list.
posted by k8lin at 2:26 PM on May 17, 2012 [26 favorites]

As an engineer, I'm always very careful to write everything clearly and concisely, with proper grammar and punctuation. Way too many people at work send e-mails like a teenager writing text messages and oftentimes they're absolutely indecipherable. So much of our work relies on properly sharing ideas and knowledge with each other that I consider proper writing a must.

When I fly (granted not for pay), I always read the checklist out loud, even if I'm alone. It ensures I don't miss anything. Then, after I'm done, I read it again. Even if I'm going in circles around the airport, I always have a map strapped to my leg and a pen nearby - you never know when you're going need these things and it's a lot better to have them on hand instead of in your bag in the back seat.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:26 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a film projectionist at an art house, I am obsessive about shipping prep.

- I label every reel of film with title / reel number / correct aspect ratio etc. before it gets packed up for shipment to another theater. Reel number is important because it's not always noted very clearly on the film — it's nice to not have to look for it. Aspect ratio might seem less important, but sometimes (like for films like Meek's Cutoff) it's crucial: it's a film that might easily be 1.85 (because it's a modern, non-anamorphic film) but it's supposed to be projected 1.37, an aspect ratio that many theaters showing newer films rarely use, and wouldn't expect to use on a new release anyway.

- I make sure every outgoing reel of film is taped down with enough tape that it won't come undone in shipping and unspool in the case and get all tangled and scratched up (that's the WORST!) Also, if the film comes on a core instead of a reel, making sure it's wound tightly and evenly to avoid situations like this (or, worse yet from a "damage to the sprockets during shipping" perspective, this).

- Keeping extra reels around to replace ones that arrive broken in shipping (instead of just jamming them back onto broken ones, leading to circumstances similar to the above).

All of these practices are great for other projectionists, but also for the audience because they mean less scratchy, splice-y film prints at the few places that still show things on film, and also for the film distributors, because they make each print last for many more screenings! But audiences don't have any idea (of course), and distributors and other projectionists generally only notice when the absence of one of these practices has lead to something horrible happening to a print in shipping.
posted by bubukaba at 2:52 PM on May 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

As a hospital nurse, I make sure to explain procedures to people before doing them, even (or especially) when they're totally painless things. Sure, I scan bladders all the time, but this patient has never had it done before, and they don't know if I'm going to stick needles in them or expose them to radiation or shove something inside them. So I tell them it's just some cold jelly on their belly, and a little pressure as I rub this plastic device over their skin. I explain that it doesn't hurt, and that it's like a simpler version of the ultrasounds that pregnant women get. Before I take out an IV, I explain that pulling the tape off the hairy part of the arm is the worst part. Before I pull up someone's gown to look at their tummy or, even worse, their groin, I tell them what I'm going to do and why. A lot of nurses don't do this, because they know it's a relatively painless thing, it's something they do all the time, but to patients it's a new and unfamiliar and scary and potentially invasive thing.

And I ALWAYS close the room door and curtain before asking anyone embarrassing questions or exposing part of their body. It makes me so mad to be walking down the hall and hear or see something private from a patient's room. People deserve to have their privacy respected.
posted by vytae at 3:40 PM on May 17, 2012 [33 favorites]

When I'm doing Photoshop cleanup for any drawings, I clean everything up in such a way that it'd be acceptable to print/view at twice the intended size, then format it for print/viewing at the intended size.
posted by cmoj at 3:45 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I manage a large, complicated database. I'm still fairly new at it, but one thing I always do is this: before I enter any data into the system, I ask myself WHY I am doing so, and what the information will later be useful for. The 10+ people who used this database before me did NOT do this, and as a result I have about 15,000 irrelevant files diluting the rest of my data, to the point where the good info is made useless by the bad info. The cleanup will take months.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:01 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

As an engineer, I'm always very careful to write everything clearly and concisely, with proper grammar and punctuation ... So much of our work relies on properly sharing ideas and knowledge with each other that I consider proper writing a must.

As an editor who edits the work of engineers, THANK YOU. Your attitude is appallingly rare and vastly appreciated.

Nthing the "You can't edit your own shit" mantra. Not even editors get a pass on this one.

I do a search and replace for double spaces in every document. Unless I am on a tight deadline, I close the document and put it aside for an hour or more before I do the final read-through.
posted by caryatid at 4:13 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm a translator and editor. I always run a find/replace to change double spaces to single spaces.
posted by drlith at 5:30 PM on May 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

I send out 3 to 6 drafts a day. My subject line says REVIEW THURSDAY [project/task]. But my body text always begins Please review ...
posted by LonnieK at 5:41 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a translator and editor. I always run a find/replace to change double spaces to single spaces.

Oh good god yes. I also do some editing, just for like grant proposals and stuff like that. There's one guy I work with for whom I have to find/replace not only double spaces, but triple, quadruple, and quintuple spaces, scattered at random throughout the document. I think he copies and pastes without noticing he's copying extra spaces.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:23 PM on May 17, 2012

I'm a vet, and I always greet the dog or cat before the human. They need to know they're the priority. Sometimes the humans do not like this. Those humans can find a new vet.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [24 favorites]

I'm a writer and editor, and I always proofread for style and consistency (i.e. all abbreviations formatted consistently, no ampersands, commas deployed according to house style, all numbers spelled out up to nine and numerals after that, all heds and subheds capped the same way, no double spaces after periods, etc.) before putting anything out into the world.
posted by elizeh at 7:34 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Unit testing. It's like a condom for your code.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:35 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm a vector illustrator, and I always use as few control points as possible. When filters or booleans generate extra points, I always get rid of them. Makes for clean shapes and small filesizes.
posted by Tom-B at 8:17 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I set up and use style sheets for my documents...even if I know the person on the receiving end won't notice and/or will destroy them.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:58 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Photographer: At least once backup for each piece of my equipment, with two backups for really mission-critical items. In most cases the backup pieces are the exact same item as the primary.

Two or three times as many memory cards and batteries as I ever expect to need on a shoot.

After a shoot, no memory card is reformatted until all photos exist on at least three hard drives, and all archived raw and finished files are archived at least two places.
posted by imjustsaying at 4:29 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I try to always put a proper greeting in an email. In the legal field, everyone is rushed and bitchy; I always try to put at least a "Hi Such and So," at the beginning.

And I always try to use the actual name of assistants, secretaries, clerks and legal assistants, and I always try to be nice, friendly and light with them, no matter how much their boss is pissing me off.
posted by mibo at 4:53 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Schedule meetings by email with a tool like doodle to avoid the following INFURIATING email exchanges

from me,to: 10 people. can we have a meeting on x/y?
1 person: no, I'm busy
1 person: yes I can make it
1 person: no
ok can we have a meeting on p/q at z am?
1 person: no, I'm busy
1 person: yes I can make it
1 person: no
repeat ad infinitum.
posted by lalochezia at 9:40 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I am a writer and if what I am writing is going to end up in or as a book, I check what it will look like on book-sized pages and adjust things like paragraph lengths so that it will look better on the final page.

and this is not one of my tricks, but my editor gave me a list of editing marks and what they meant along with the first manuscript she returned to me. I really appreciated that.
posted by spindle at 1:06 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a scientist. I leave exquisite details in my notebooks, from the batch number/date of reagents I used for a given experiment, to incredible minutiae in how I executed experiments, etc. Really helps when you need to repeat your work. Incredibly frustrating to try to repeat a past scientist's work if they didn't keep their notebook up well (more common than not).

I also don't share any of my results with anyone until I've repeated the entire experiment twice - doing things in triplicate each time - ideally with new batches of as many reagents as possible. I am constantly amazed by how many other scientists do not do this. I could never live with that level of paranoia that my work is not repeatable/was an anomaly.

When I am given papers to anonymously review before they are published in "peer reviewed" journals, I critique the science as requested. I also exhaustively fix all grammatical errors/odd sentences/etc, and leave these changes in my comments to the authors. It really irritates me how many poorly written scientific articles there are in the world.
posted by corn_bread at 1:15 PM on May 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

When I was doing field warranty replacement work on home and business computers, I always offered the customer what I called "the five-dollar tour." This included not only my detailed explanation of what piece I was replacing and a walk-through of how I was replacing it, but also an overview of what plugs go where, how to remove and replace your memory, why the processor needs such a gigantic heat sink, which parts should slide into place with no resistance and which ones need a gentle shove to seat properly, &c.

I'd say 80-90% of my customers took me up on it. I would finish it up by saying "Remember, nobody is born into this world with knowledge of how a computer works already fully formed in their brain. Everybody who is good at this stuff now had to learn it at some point." My hope was that people would start to think of their computer as, like, a very complicated toaster or something -- a complex, well-engineered tool, rather than a piece of magic.
posted by KathrynT at 4:46 PM on May 18, 2012

Another Software Test Engineer here.

Along with detailed steps, I limit myself to a summary of 100 characters for describing the defect. Doing this forces me to really think through the cause of the behavior I'm seeing and describe it succinctly. Developers like it because they get a really good description of the defect without having to wade through a lot of verbiage.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:43 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I stand in front of people a lot, teaching things or giving presentations. No matter how small or large the audience, whenever someone asks a question I always repeat it first before answering.

It's primarily for the room's benefit so everyone can hear the question, but it also helps me mentally prepare the answer.
posted by jeremias at 7:32 PM on May 18, 2012 [10 favorites]

Write email with the punch line at the top! Please, people. I want to know what we're talking about and what you want from me before you start in with the he said/she said/the manual says whining justifications. Plus, the one-line preview in my email list makes sense that way. I might even open it and answer right away if I can tell what you want easily.

I also like and use EmpressCallipygos' suggestion to reserve the f-word. I also extend that to criticizing people (as opposed to making "constructive suggestions") in general. People have told me that when I tell them they did something really stupid, they believe it, because I almost never say that.
posted by ctmf at 12:21 PM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

When judging the quality of my work, I assume that I'm going to hit the lottery today, spend it tonight, and die tomorrow. I try to leave my work as if a friend would have to take it over from me, with only the notes I left behind.

I'm fine with all of the little things slipping... but want to make sure that I document what I did and why I did it, so the *big* things don't need to be done twice.
posted by talldean at 7:16 PM on May 20, 2012

These aren't necessarily "tricks of my trade", but these are things I keep in mind dealing with adults and teenagers everyday.

As a teacher, here are a few things that I do...

1. Super-detailed lesson plan instructions for substitute teachers. I also keep several "emergency" lesson plans on my desk (with needed copies and materials) and with my department chair, just in case I fall into a well or something.

2. Once I have mastered all of my students names, I always wait outside the door of my classroom and say "Good morning/afternoon *name*" as they enter. I say "please", "thank you" and "you're welcome" to all of my students at all times. It may be cliche, but kindness and manners can be good motivators. It never hurts to try and put a smile on someone's face.

3. Adding to what jeremias said above, I always repeat the questions that are asked of me to make sure everyone heard it. Sometimes, if the question is really good, I'll say "that's a great question and I want everyone to hear it. Say it loud and proud!" This also works for great answers.

4. When passing people by in the hallway, other students, teachers or administrators may casually ask "how's it going". Most people just say "good" or something along those lines, but I try to make sure I have a new response everyday so it doesn't feel repetitive and meaningless. If I'm feeling excited that day, I say something like "bicycle kick!" or "standing triple!" If I'm feeling sick or down I say "blueberry" or "sad clown". I think some of my fellow teachers think that this is ridiculous, but I don't care. If they don't really want to know how I'm doing, then they shouldn't ask me.

5. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know".

6. Although suits aren't required (a shirt and tie will do), I always suit up on the first day, on test days, on field trips, or any other type of very important day.
posted by Groundhog Week at 8:02 PM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

I write technical documentation. Here are some Word things that I do:

- Always run a find/replace in Word to replace apostrophes with apostrophes and quotes with quotes, to make sure they are all "Smart Quotes" (“…”). If you copy and paste text from notepad or web site they might be dumb quotes ("...").

- I always use styles for my formatting.

- Even if I'm not using header/footers, I check the header/footers to make sure the sections are appropriately linked, in case whomever gets the document next chooses to add page numbers.

- If I'm sending the file to someone who doesn't need to print it in high-res, I reduce the size of the embedded pictures. This makes a big difference, and the extra step is appreciated by recipients with low mailbox limits.
posted by amitai at 4:15 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I prepare a pdf handout, I set it up so that the file displays a single whole page when opened.* If all you see when you open a document is the top third of the first page, you miss a lot of visual cues given by the layout, and these are cues that help you make sense of the document even before you've processed any of the text.

*In Acrobat Pro, go to the File dropdown menu, then Properties, then the Initial View tab, and then under Page layout select Single Page.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:07 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm a Case Manager/Therapist with adults with persistent mental disorders. I always try to find nice things to say to people - clients, co-workers, and other people in the community. I do it unobserved and when I'm with my clients. I encourage them to follow suit. Creating a better world, one complement at a time!
posted by Deoridhe at 2:27 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Speaking generally, I document conversations as much as possible. Not EVERYTHING, but as much of it as possible. I didn't learn the need for this until I started working internationally, but then when I did learn it, I realized I had been doing it informally for most of my working life. I just started doing it more formally.

As a line manager of staff, I document every discussion I have with my direct reports, from performance appraisals to corrective actions to general bitch sessions. I make notes so that I don't forget, to document what we talked about, and so that if it ever comes down to it, I have a record of when we talked, who was present, and what we talked about.

As a lead implementer in a specialized field, I document every meeting we have, every management agreement to organizational change, every discussion on budget and team structure and work plans and what have you. I note who approved what, and when, and whenever I do almost anything, I have a conversation I can point back to if anyone ever questions me on why. After every meeting that I'm not leading, I send my notes to the participants, even if there is a minutes-taker, and ask for any corrections or feedback. I list who agreed to be responsible for what, and by when.

As an expat in a country I don't have citizenship in, only residency, I document my comings and goings, my work permit expiry dates (in case the admin in my office forgets), what visas I will need and when, travel plans, insurance confirmations, etc. etc..

Personally, I document discussions with the credit card customer service on a fraudulent charge, I document my complaints to the internet company on services not rendered, I document any interaction I have that I might have some future need to refer back to.

I don't have exhaustive records. Often I've searched through them and not found what I needed. More often than not, though, I find what I needed and I kid you not - the power of evidence of simple notes taken on my own damn laptop, blows my mind. To the point that I wonder why people don't question their authenticity more often, if I am the keeper of the records. They are almost never questioned, though, because I keep better records than most.

I use Microsoft OneNote. I hate everything MS has ever done, pretty much, but OneNote absolves them completely in my book. I'm now trying to make the switch to Evernote, but until they make a fancy way for me to synch everything in one button push, its not likely to happen soon.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:12 AM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Eponysterical, allkindsoftime!
posted by Dragonness at 1:24 PM on May 23, 2012

I'm a web designer & developer. Here are things I do that are usually overlooked but are important:
  • I always make sure a website has a favicon as well as larger icons for things like tablets. Usually there is a 2-3 week delay before I hear "I LOVE our little icon!!!" and it's worth it. But it's worth it anyway.
  • I always make sure that I leave help text for my clients who are updating their websites. Next to each field in the CMS, there is a little blurb that says, "This field is used for..." This is in addition to the other documentation I provide.
  • Before I go into a meeting to pitch a web project, I write a blog post or two that may help me "continue the conversation outside the meeting" by anticipating the client's needs. For example, if I know that Susan is nervous about social media, I might write an article that details the type of frustrations she might be experiencing. Then when she brings up the subject during our meeting, I can immediately shelve the topic for later by saying, "I just wrote an article about that, and would love to see what you think. I'll send it to you after the meeting." This usually works better for all involved than trying to dive into the topic during the meeting.
  • I built myself a web dashboard to track my invoices, clients, and projects. Not many of us do that, but it helps a lot and I learn more about development.
  • I hired a business consultant and think about what I do from a business perspective rather than a web design perspective. The consultant makes me at least 10x per year what I pay him. His advice has been extremely helpful in getting me into good situations and out of bad ones.
  • I buy books for my clients who are DIY-types. I try to make sure they feel like they're not being excluded for seeming cheap.

posted by circular at 7:38 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm an Experimental physicist, and usually do a dimensional check before sharing a calculation (if you have a distance divided by a time on one side of an equality sign, you should have a speed on the other side, not a charge or an energy). I also search-and-replace my manuscripts for some common British/American differences to make sure I use one version consistently.

In the lab, you do many things without knowing if they make a difference or not. Especially in nanofabrication, you pre-rinse a vacuum chamber with an oxygen plasma, develop your resist in an ultrasonic bath, and pick the metal that's 99.9999% pure instead of just 99.999%, all because it worked like that before and you don't want to risk introducing a problem you can never track down.

I try to keep my lab notes so detailed that I won't ever have to question what I did afterwards even if some numbers disagree (writing things like "Triple-checked in the morning that the attenuator is 20dB" and also taking a picture).

And I use the grounding bracelet also when nobody else is looking.
posted by springload at 4:59 PM on May 25, 2012

I proofread my emails before I send them.

Also, I attach calendar invitations for anything with a date associated with it.
posted by schmod at 5:20 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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