Do it right the first time

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 23rd April 2018

Like most people with full schedules, I have lots to get done and precious little time to get it done in. I get frustrated when my time is unnecessarily wasted by other people, because the opportunity cost for me is huge.

I recently bought a new laptop, visiting the brand’s flagship store to pick it up. The tech assistant brought out my shiny new device, and offered to update the version of Windows to the most current. Seemed like a good idea to me, so I sat back while he did his work. As the new software downloaded, he flitted between me and a couple of other jobs, occasionally checking progress. After about twenty minutes the job was done, and off I went with my new computer. All good!

Except, when I got back to the office, I found that the keyboard on the laptop no longer worked. Nothing I did could get it working. Grrr! So, a couple of days later I was back in store, reporting my problem. The tech guy I got on this day knew exactly what the problem was – new drivers needed to be installed. He said this was a known problem and the other guy should have done this. Grrr!

Now at one level, the guy made a mistake. Give him a break. He was busy and missed a step. Maybe. But at another level, a more productive level, he would have made sure he did it right the first time, saving me both time and angst.

So, what could he have done differently to avoid the mistake?  He could have focused on one job, rather than splitting his concentration across three. He could have done a quick mental check to ensure he covered all steps, and a quick physical check to make sure it was working. If it was a complex job, or he was unfamiliar with it, he could have used a checklist.

This is a sad example of what happens in our busy workplaces every day. We rush work because we are under pressure, and end up costing ourselves or others precious time. One of the key concepts from my new book, Smart Teams (available on 30th April) is the idea of working in a mindful way. This involves trying your best not to disrupt the productivity of others, even when you are busy or under pressure.

I’m glad to say that this blog was written on my lovely new laptop, and all is working well now. And the time was not completely wasted. It gave me this story, which makes it all worthwhile for me.

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