Constantly making mistakes at work can be frustrating and if you are working to meet tight deadlines or for a demanding boss, then you are no doubt feeling the pressure to start improving your work ethic. But no one is perfect, so how can you avoid making the same mistakes? This article will provide you with 10 surefire tips.
To stop making the same mistakes at work try the following:
- Get sufficient rest.
- Avoid distractions.
- Plan what you need to do.
- Take breaks.
- Ask questions when you are unsure about what to do.
- Don’t procrastinate.
- Double-check your work.
- Get a second pair of eyes.
- Avoid multitasking.
- Learn from your mistakes.
Is It Normal To Make Mistakes At Work?
It is perfectly normal to make mistakes at work as we are all imperfect and often get things wrong! Although it may seem like you are the only one in your office that makes mistakes that could be because of a variety of reasons:
- Others are better at hiding their mistakes than you are and don’t own up to them!
- You try multitasking or are not fully concentrated when working.
- You’re often interrupted at work or distracted by social media.
- You’re reluctant to ask questions when you’re unsure about how you should complete tasks.
- You are working too many hours and aren’t getting sufficient rest or breaks.
Try pairing any number of these factors together and it will be more than normal for you to make mistakes throughout the day, no matter how long you have been in your profession.
While making mistakes is a completely normal part of life, it is still frustrating and embarrassing to have to own up to the mistakes you make and could even be costly to you should you be forced to re-do work in your own time.
So how can you save face at work and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again? The following ten steps will indicate the best ways to do so.
1. Get Sufficient Rest.
Most adults need to sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night in order to function at their best the following day. If you have a particularly difficult job that requires a lot of concentration or is physically taxing, you will be more likely to make mistakes throughout the day if you do not rest for long enough at nighttime.
It is important to set a bedtime and stick to it! Avoid staying up late to do things of little importance on a weeknight as this will affect your productivity at work the next day.
The human body likes routine, so as far as possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day – including the weekends. Doing so will encourage your body to get into a cycle and will help you to shake that groggy feeling in the morning. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sleeping in for an extra hour at the weekends, but if you wake up at 6 am on weekdays and then sleep in until 11 at the weekends you will find that you are disturbing your sleep rhythms and it will be harder for you to go to bed at a sensible time at night.
2. Avoid Distractions.
One way to be more productive during the workday and to avoid making mistakes is to say no to distractions. But what are the biggest workplace distractions?
- Browsing the internet and social media on your work device.
- Chatting to coworkers.
- Smoking and snack breaks.
Place your smartphone on silent, or change it to a setting that will not easily disturb you. If possible keep your smartphone in a locker or out of sight throughout the day and provide your family with your work phone number that they can use to get hold of you in case of emergencies.
Browsing the internet and social media on your work device.
If you are working on a computer or tablet all day, then you may be tempted to use it to browse the internet and log in to social media while you are working. But taking your concentration away from the task at hand for just a moment is enough to cause a distraction that could cause you to make errors in your work.
Chatting to coworkers.
Everyone loves a little office gossip, but there is a time for everything. If you spend too long chatting, you could lose track of time leaving you no choice but to rush important jobs, making your work more susceptible to errors.
Smoking and snack breaks.
Taking short, regular breaks at work is key to keeping your productivity levels high especially if your job involves a lot of computer work. But avoid taking too many breaks as these will eat into your day and cause you to make mistakes when you are forced to complete jobs quickly.
Email and social media.
It is amazing how much time is wasted trying to respond to countless work emails. So instead of replying straight away to every email you receive, allocate a short amount of time each day to responding to emails so that you can concentrate on the more important things for the rest of the day without distractions.
3. Plan What You Need To Do.
If you have various projects on the go at once then it’s easy to lose track of all of the different things you have to do and you may end up making petty mistakes. What can you do to stop this from happening?
- Make a check-list. Write down a list of tasks that must be completed throughout the course of a day or even a week and then work through them methodically, striking them off of the list as you do them.
- Stick to a schedule. Include times and dates into your schedule so that you know exactly what you should be doing and when. This will also help to stick to strict deadlines.
- Program everything into your schedule. Ensure you include intervals for breaks, answering important emails, and make allowances for important meetings so that you are not frustrated or flustered trying to stick to an unrealistic timetable.
4. Take Breaks.
It is easier to be productive for long periods of time when you occasionally take short breaks. This is especially true when it comes to office-based jobs that require you to spend a lot of time concentrating on a computer screen.
Here are some tips about how and when you should take breaks that will keep you alert throughout the day and prevent you from making mistakes.
Take short and frequent breaks.
It is recommended that you take a break for 5-10 minutes after every 50-60 minutes of looking at a computer screen. Not only are short breaks key for preventing eye strain, but they will also help to improve your concentration and productivity when you resume working.
If your job is very demanding and you are working with a tight schedule then it may be nearly impossible for you to take 10 minutes away from your screen every hour. In this case, you should try the 20-20-20 rule. That means, that after every 20 minutes of computer work, you should concentrate on an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. These short and snappy frequent breaks help your eyes to refocus and are effective at preventing eye strain.
Sitting at a desk all day is very taxing on the body and the lack of circulation can make you feel lethargic causing you to make mistakes at work. To prevent this from happening, use your break periods to keep moving. Try going for a walk around the block after lunch instead of simply waiting out your break in the staff room, as this will get the blood flowing around your body and give you more energy to tackle the afternoon.
5. Ask Questions When You Are Unsure About What To Do.
Are you starting at a new job and are being forced to come to grips with an unfamiliar computer system or a distinct way of working? Then I am sure you will agree that there is nothing worse than plowing through a task, getting it done at record speed, and feeling pretty chuffed with yourself, only to find out that you have not completed it correctly.
Instead of having to face the embarrassment that comes with admitting that you have completely missed the mark with a task, make sure you ask questions when you are not sure about what is required of you.
No matter if you are starting a new job in a line of work that is familiar to you or you are changing branches at the company you work for, it is always helpful to ask exactly what is expected from you. Every branch has its own way of working so it’s important to double-check how they work from the offset so that you can avoid having to clean up petty mistakes later on.
6. Don’t Procrastinate.
So how can procrastination lead to making mistakes? We all put off doing tasks that we don’t enjoy and leave them until last. And while there is nothing wrong with changing the order in which you complete tasks, you should schedule everything that you need to get done and monitor the time you will need to complete it all so that you can always hand your work in on time.
If you keep putting tasks off then you may find your deadline creeping up on you faster than expected, forcing you to complete tasks quickly without being able to dedicate as much time to them as you need to and allowing room for errors to slip in.
To stop this from happening you should:
- Make a list of the tasks you need to complete.
- Stamp each task with a date or time that it needs to be completed by.
- Work through each task in the order you like as long as that order fits in with your deadlines.
7. Double-Check Your Work.
When composing an important email directed to your superiors, would you send it without first checking it for errors and typos? Unlikely! So, if you take the time to check and perhaps even double-check something as simple as an email, then why not spend a few brief moments checking your work for errors?
If you work in a fast-paced work environment then it could prove tricky for you to find the time to double-check your work, but doing so could save you a lot of time in the long-run.
Just as there is often an error or two that will slip your notice when you compose the first draft of an email, you may also find that you are making careless mistakes in your work that could have been avoided if you check it.
8. Get A Second Pair Of Eyes.
Many companies are now obligating their employers to get their work checked by a fresh set of eyes before placing orders. Companies that work with digital ordering systems with high ticket price items have to be extremely careful with their computer systems. Why? Because it is so easy for an employee to make simple mistakes when placing orders that cost the company money.
Even if you have been in your line of work for a long time, it is still a good idea to get your work checked by a peer. We are all human, and a workmate may be able to pick up on a basic fault in your work that could help you to save face in the long run.
9. Avoid Multitasking.
We may think that multitasking is helping us to get things done faster when in reality it is actually setting us up for failure. Here’s why:
- The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so multitasking reduces our efficiency as a result of poor concentration.
- Our brains cannot perform simultaneous tasks successfully, meaning it will take longer for us to complete two simultaneous tasks well than it would doing them one after the other. Multitasking also makes us more subject to error.
- It is tricky to switch from one task to the next when multitasking and this may make it difficult for us to organize our thoughts and know what to do next.
Instead of multitasking, form a list of jobs that need to be done, and start and finish each job individually before moving on to the next one. Begin with the most urgent jobs and work your way down the list.
10. Learn From Your Mistakes.
As has been mentioned many times in this article, we all make mistakes from time to time and that is just what makes us human. While there are things that we can do to stop us from making silly mistakes and help us to save face, we have to accept the fact that we will all make errors from time to time, no matter how long we have been in our professions.
One of the most important things to do when you do make mistakes is to learn from them. The next time you make a mistake at work try asking yourself the following questions that will prevent you from doing the same thing again:
- What was I trying to do?
- When did things start to go wrong?
- What did I do wrong?
- How could this have been prevented?
Answering these questions will help you to learn from your mistakes and will also assist you with moving forward. Always acknowledge your errors and then think about the reasons why you’re determined not to make the same mistakes again. Remember, making a mistake is not a failure, you will only fail if you make a mistake and then give up!