Many of today’s workplaces are perversely designed to maximize the fragmentation of our attention and increase task-switching, both of which produce greater error rates.
Law firms, where you’re expected to answer every email and call immediately, where glass walls and doors are in fashion, and where emergencies are the norm, are among the worst for focused work. Yet we’re supposed to turn out perfect work product.
To combat this environment, I resorted to a checklist.
By the time I was a 4th year, my checklist had grown to 5 pages. Each item on that list represented a mistake I made. Some items were substantive (“remember to check prosecution history for patentee statements re: estoppel”); some were stylistic (“every sentence ends w/ period?” “today’s date?” “right caption?”).
I was diligent about adding my mistakes to the checklist, and once an item was on the list, I never made that error again.
This practice saved my bacon on numerous occasions. I don’t consider this checklist a record of my failures – although I’m sure some perfectionists would view it as such. Instead, it’s my record of knowledge gained and experience earned.
What’s your way of not making the same mistakes?