"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." ~Steve Jobs
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." ~Benjamin Franklin
Well it happened to me again. I turned in a report only to have one of the VPs find an obvious and silly error right away. I’ve done thousands of reports in my career and I’m pretty good at anticipating questions that will arise and keeping them error free. One of the reasons is that I double check my work, and in this case I did not do that extra step. There are generally only two reasons I don’t do a double check on a report, memo, presentation, etc.:
- There’s no time – Will cause the missing of a deadline
- My brain is fried – Will be useless since I’ll still miss things
I won’t make a judgment on whether those are good reasons for not doing a double check, but they’re the only reasons I allow for myself, and I don’t take them lightly. Handing in work with errors shows incompetence (maybe a little, maybe a lot) and while that may seem harsh, it’s accurate. But fear not, there are a few techniques any of us can use to check our work which I will list from most time intensive to least time intensive:
Have someone else look at it – Definitely reciprocate the favor if you go this route, but a completely fresh pair of eyes on the document will catch things you couldn’t. This also gives you practice explaining your work which is a good exercise for any of us to go through to see if we met the scope of the assignment.
Print it off and review – Printing it off naturally creates a “break” in the process that allows your mind to reset a little. Also, I find that reading it on paper itself is a “new” way of looking at it and helps me see areas of improvement better.
Review it from start to finish on the computer – The least time consuming and least effective. At least go through it from start to finish before sending it off.
I almost always find some mistake, or something I could have done better when I use any of the three techniques above. The key is consistently double checking, you’ll find as you practice this that it becomes quicker and easier to spot errors or needed improvements.