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Top 10 Reasons You Forgot To Check Your Work

There are many reasons that can lead to talented people submitting work riddled with mistakes. You don’t have to be dumb to make them, nor do you have to be particularly smart to catch them. You just need a little patience and a system. Before you fire off that email, submit your big project, or publish your next blog post ask yourself if you’ve done your due diligence. Take a breath, and make sure you haven’t fallen victim to these common attention stealing, energy draining pitfalls.

10 Reasons You Forgot To Check Your Work

1. You Forgot To Check Your Work Because You Got Distracted

You’re a good person, a smart individual, you used to get good grades effortlessly on school assignments. Maybe you had full intention to double, triple, or quadruple check your work. All of the intentions in the world doesn’t help when your mind and attention gets hijacked by an energy-hogging distraction!

We live in a state of persistent interconnectivity all of the time. Having a few dozen minutes alone to yourself is almost unheard of, let alone a few hours to focus in a deep state of concentration. Just for this article, I literally had to warn my team that I was going “off the grid” in order get a solid chunk of uninterrupted work time. Effectively, I had to ask for permission to not be available at a moment’s notice… and really, this is only one source of distraction in my day. No matter how much I’d like to be, I’m not in a sensory deprivation tank writing this post.

Whether you have multiple plates up in the air and all of them are ranked at priority one, your inbox is setting all of the devices a buzz, team group chats are scrolling by like the end credits of a Michael Bay film or a precocious puppers is under your desk gnawing at your feet, there are just too many opportunities to distract your concentration and cause you to miss that oxford comma.

2. You Forgot To Check Your Work Because You’re Lazy…Sorta

I usually avoid using the word lazy because it’s too broad of a catchall and highly inaccurate most of the time. In essence, we’re all lazy when it comes to certain tasks. Haven’t you found yourself endlessly researching an interesting topic, working diligently for 12+ hours forgetting to eat, drink, or take a bathroom break all for something that truly moves you?

Laziness isn’t really a term that can be used as a character trait describing an individual in most of their life. Let me explain. Perhaps you’re lazy when it comes to taking out the garbage, but you have a fountain of motivation for things that truly interest you. For instance, why can’t I bring myself to do the dishes, but I can rock climb, hike 15 miles, and still have the energy to go out with my fiancé or play with my dog?

Have you ever walked into a department store and immediately felt your body shut down wanting to collapse onto itself into a ball between the coat racks? It’s not laziness, it’s energy and some situations and tasks just suck the life force from you.

Your mindset and the emotional baggage you bring to a given task tells your body how much energy to devote to it. Or is it that the more emotional baggage, the more energy your body needs to maintain normal operating procedure? I may not have the science down pat, but I’ve experienced it, and you have too. Interest begets energy.

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If you’re unable to find a genuine interest in the work at hand, how are you going to muster the energy to do the best job you possibly can?

3. You’re Just So Darned Excited That You Forgot To Check Your Work

The lack of enthusiasm for a project, job, or task can wreak havoc on your energy store, motivation, and thus the quality of work you produce. Too much enthusiasm can be great for reaching the “end point” of a project, but it just might cause you to excitedly jump the gun.

Let’s say you’re writing a novel. It’s your first novel. It’s an idea that has been brewing inside of you your entire life and after years of procrastination, you’ve produced the first draft. You did it! You wrote your story from point A to B, you typed “the end” on the last page and hit save. How incredibly exciting! In your haste, excitement, and passion you fire it off to all of your friends and family in hopes you’ll win them over well on your way to earning your first 1,000 fans.

Here’s the problem. You didn’t take the time to go through your novel and rework it. Did you do the real work that only begins once you plow your way through the first draft? Did you put it up to your honest and hard scrutiny? Did you even catch your misspellings and disagreeing tenses? Probably not. You were just so excited to be done, incredibly proud of yourself for actually finishing something of this magnitude for once (as you very well should be) that you forgot to put the work through its proper paces before submitting it.

Whenever you find yourself either A – Reaching the first finish line on a daunting task or B – Bringing into life a passion project that has been dying to see the light of day, first ask yourself, “Is this truly the end? Or is this just the end of step one? What’s next, what more, how can I check my work?”

4. You Don’t Know That You Forgot To Check Your Work – Properly

Quickly clicking through that newly built website and seeing that the pages load is not the full extent of “checking your work.” Many times we get to the final stage, just to blow past the most important part. Either out of frustration, excitement, or inexperience we submit improperly or inefficiently vetted final products.

You don’t have a set rubric to check against.
Not having a checklist to ensure you’re checking accurately is detrimental to overall quality. No matter how experienced the pilot, they still run through their preflight checklist. Would you stay on the plane if a pilot announced, “Well the engines turned on so I assume everything is good, let’s get it up in the air!”? Not confidently at least.

You don’t have a set standard.
If you check all of the boxes, but there is no quality of standard built into those checks, then you’re leaving room for sloppiness. Yes the article hit its 1500 word requirement, but did it makes sense? Was it effective in delivering its intended message.

You’re too close to the work.
It’s far too easy to see what you want to see when it comes to checking your own work. You know how it’s supposed to look, you know your intent, and as a result, our brains fill in the gaps because we know what is supposed to be there. Getting an outside perspective or just changing the circumstances under which you review your work can give you a fresh set of eyes to see those glaring mistakes.

5. Embarrassment Made You Forget To Check Your Work

Is it possible that you felt so embarrassed by the work at hand, or by your execution of the work that you just wanted to sweep it all under the rug as quickly as possible? Have you ever submitted a mistake knowing it was there all along in hopes that nobody would notice and everyone could go on with their merry way?

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Yes. Of course, because you’re human.

That sentiment is natural yet dangerous to your final product. Maybe you didn’t even think, “I’m not going to check this” perhaps you were just too ready to put that project to rest. Of course this is backward because the less attention you give to the project, the more you avoid the necessary steps required to be thorough, performing the hasty finish only creates a stage for mistakes which absolutely will be found out thus forcing you to live in the embarrassment even longer than if you had just been through in the first place.

6. Be Honest, You Didn’t Forget To Check Your Work…You Just Didn’t Give A F#@k.

It pains me to say it, but it’s the truth. Sometimes you just don’t care. You don’t care about the quality of work you produce, sometimes you are happy to sully your reputation by stamping your name on work that you know isn’t your best. Why? It comes down to your bag of F#@Ks. You just didn’t have any left to give.

Sounds silly, but some people – including you – just don’t care sometimes. In order to do a good job, and to be energized to push through and work not only efficiently, but thoroughly (which includes checking your work) requires a lot of F’s to give. If you can’t find a reason to care about the work, you won’t do a thorough job.

Of course, you don’t have to care for the subject matter or the overall project, heck you don’t even have to like the job! However, finding a reason to care for what you’re doing be it personal pride and satisfaction in a job well done, or the life you fund from the money you make performing that job. It is essential to find a way to resonate with the task in order to find the energy to push through all of the necessary steps to reach the standard you set.

7. You’re Moving So Fast You “Forgot” To Check Your Work

♫ Slow down, you move to fast… You’ve got to make the morning last! ♫ Speed and overconfidence can bite you in the butt, especially when you’re working on a project with a lot of steps, checks, and tasks. Moving too swiftly thinking that you’ve figured it out and your system is infallible will have you submitting unchecked, unacceptable work in no time.

Furthermore, moving too fast with too much confidence can compound your mistakes if you’re doing a lot of tasks that build upon one another.

I’ve been in that boat. I’ve thought I had a quicker way to do something, or I’ve done it so many times I thought I could blaze through – systemize and take the thought out of it – only to find that my process was only half-baked thus requiring me to redo hours of work. Being too confident in your speed and self-perceived accuracy can have you making these mistakes.

8. You Forgot To Check Your Work Becuase The Computer Didn’t Warn You

Skimming through your document in search of red underlined words is not “checking your work”. Relying too heavily on technology to give you clues as to when something is awry just might have you making more than spelling mistakes. If your house is filling with smoke, but the alarms aren’t blaring, are you going to sit there insisting nothing’s wrong? Of course not! You have good judgment and common sense. So why do we fall into the trap of letting “the machines” determine if something is good enough to be considered done?

Just because the end product achieves the desired result, it doesn’t mean it was done well. If we’re developing a new site for a customer many times clients say, “I want a website, and it should focus on X, Y, and Z.” That’s not a lot to go off of, but we know that if we just uploaded a PDF to the domain it would technically hit all of the surface level requirements, but it would obviously not be what the client is expecting. It wouldn’t hit our standards nor would it satisfy the client’s standards. Using a little common sense, just because the functionality is there, just because a user can go to it, click links and get info doesn’t make it a finished product.

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9. You “Forgot” To Check Your Work Because Of Poor Management

Let’s blame the higher ups! Sometimes it is true, it’s just not your fault, right? Poor planning, procrastination – not your own obviously – or unrealistic time-frames can put you on your heels making it feel as if you’re always two steps behind on a project.

Having the odds stacked against you from the beginning might cause you to take risky shortcuts and just submit something while hoping for the best. Working under tight time constraints is stressful to say the least, and not having the necessary time to budget a few rounds of reviews is dangerous to your end product.

How can you cope with poor time management? If you’re in a position to quote your own expected time frame, don’t be tempted to sound good by being unreasonably speedy. You’re just creating an uphill battle for yourself. Resist the temptation to “people please” and give an honest estimate for how long the project will take to be done right… then add some buffer time for unexpected challenges and troubleshooting.

Doing a thorough job in a realistic amount of time is much better than doing a poor job quickly. Set expectations early. If a supervisor says, you have 5 hours to do Project X don’t be afraid to tell her you cannot achieve the best results within that time frame. Better yet, tell her what you can accomplish within those 5 hours.

Don’t be defensive, be realistic. The best approach is to under promise and over deliver. In the end, you need the mental bandwidth to do the job to the best of your abilities. You can’t have the stress of that ticking clock interfering with getting the job done. Remember, it’s your name and your reputation stamped on the work.

10. You Forgot To Check Your Work…And Nobody Else Caught It.

As we’ve discussed, you don’t have to be a complete loofa to miss glaring mistakes and cause excessive harm to your reputation. There are many reasons why you have and will make these mistakes. Working in a way that allows for these mistakes and creates a net to catch these mistakes before putting the final pin in it most important.

If you work for an organization that doesn’t currently have a system of checks in place to prevent dumb mistakes, then establish it. If all of the work plus quality assurance comes down to just one person, then obviously there are going to be quality issues.

Develop a team strategy to foster perfection. Showing your supervisor an unfinished draft or a work in progress shouldn’t be scary and a threat to the job. If this is the case, then develop a network of colleagues who will give your work a fresh set of eyes.

Final Thoughts…

We’re all going to face deadlines, be distracted by life, and forced to do jobs we don’t want to do. Having the mental fortitude to push forward and knock out the task to the best of your ability is what’s going to allow you to have the opportunities to do work that naturally excites and energizes you. How we do anything is how we do everything. For the areas we fall short, it’s our job to create the systems to ensure we can still produce work that has been checked and held to up to its standard.

– The Bug Squasher

P.S. Simplify the process of checking your work with The Bug Squasher. Get all hands on deck for your next web design project and easily collect and catalog feedback with our custom CRM software then assign tasks through our easy to use ticketing system.

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