December 9, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

Mistakes happen – appointments get missed, deadlines slide by, and that phone call doesn’t get returned. These things happen to everyone sooner or later. Sometimes these are things that can be avoided next time, sometimes they’re unavoidable, and sometimes they’re just plain old stupid mistakes.

I get so stuck on details sometimes. I know that’s because I make snap judgments and any kind of mistake distracts me. This isn’t the case for everyone though. I value flawless execution… sometimes at the expense of showing up at all. Many of my friends would say that showing up is most important, even if imperfectly.

In my world, imperfect might mean a subject line with a spelling error, a hyperlink that doesn’t work, or a bunch of weird html code showing up in a newsletter. These are all little nitpicky details that can have an immediate and negative impact.

Here are some tips to help you make sure those little details are right:
  • Haste makes waste. Slow down and concentrate.
  • Avoid distractions. Multi-tasking doesn’t work. Shut down your email.
  • Use the tools available. Spell checker, grammar checker, SPAM checker…
  • Double-check, especially details like dates and addresses.
  • Print to proof. Your eyes will see things in print that they miss on a screen.
  • Get another set of eyes. If it’s important, always ask someone else to proof for you.
  • Check links. We use links everywhere - social media, blogs, websites, newsletters, online advertising. Make sure yours work.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on December 6, 2012

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