I have decided that it’s time to confront my weaknesses and failures – the traps and pitfalls I fall into over and over again. They cause annoyance, waste time, and generally hold me back. They pop up when I am busy, distracted, or tired. Perhaps if I acknowledge my failures, and share them I will be more likely to conquer them someday. I have boiled my fails down to 5 minor modern sins that cause major headaches. I shall write them as if I am giving advice to someone else, because it’s less painful that way.
1. Don’t complain about anyone unless it is to their face.
First of all it’s wrong, and it unproductive. It’s so tempting to vent about someone that is upsetting you to a confidant. It’s so soothing to commiserate with someone who feels the same way you do. Resist! The chance of your complaints getting back to the person in question are high, especially if it’s digital. Unless you are talking to your spouse – at home in bed, where no one could ever overhear, or walk up behind you– you are setting yourself up for an awkward situation. Better to collect your thoughts privately and address the situation head on with the subject in question.
2. Always overestimate all things relating to time and money.
It will always take longer and cost more than you could ever think it could. I am always falling for odd-even pricing and rounding down the cost of things. I am always racing the clock to fit in everything I thought I could cram into the day. Estimate and then double it. And then maybe double it again. It is never unpleasant when you find you have some time and money left over.
3. Double check everything.
And I don’t mean check it once. Check it twice. You think you wrote a great email? Stop and read it again. Now stop and read it again. I guarantee you will find some incredibly stupid and embarrassing typo. You think you know what time the birthday party is? Check it on your calendar. Then before you leave, check it again. I bet you didn’t remember correctly. You think you clearly communicated to your sitter how to get to your house? Call her and tell her again. Then on that day call and check in and make sure she is on her way – I guarantee she lost the address. Don’t make any assumptions that your memory or the memory of those around you is reliable. It’s always worth following up on a deadline, delivery, or appointment. There is a reason why every doctor, dentist, hairdresser, and spa calls you the day before your appointments to remind you – because you clearly forgot.
4. Write it down and file it away.
Speaking of forgetting, we all know how useful lists are. Writing things down is your weapon against that kludged computer you call a brain. You will always forget what you don’t write down. I am amazed at the miracles that occur when I write down/put in my calendar /add to my contacts/save to Evernote seemingly mundane information that turns out to be solid gold a week later. But that’s not all! You need to have good filing habits. Keeping records is useless if you can’t find them. Any system is fine as long as you stick to it and do some house cleaning once in a while. In this digital realm of information, our data is our greatest asset. You may think saving that file to your desktop for now instead of into the folder where it belongs, will save you a few minutes, but it is just a huge time suck in the making. Most importantly invest in regular backups of your data. Wireless drives are not that expensive and I bet you would pay 5 times what they cost to get back all your photos when your computer is stolen or dies.
5. Listen to the little voice in your head.
If it tells you not to tell that joke you just thought of, don’t tell it. If it tells you to call your mother, drop what you are doing and call. If it tells you that you should check your account balance, take a minute and log in. If it tells you you should be writing a blog post, instead of watching Youtube videos, grab a pen and paper. And if it tells you not to eat that block of cheese… call in reinforcements. That little voice is your intuition and it may be soft and subtle, but it’s persistent and it is often right. If you try and ignore it, it will whisper to you in the middle of the night, bug you while you are in the shower, and it’s favorite phrase is “I told you so.”
These all seem so obvious now that they are in writing. We will see if it finally sinks in.