So you want to be able to focus more and make fewer mistakes at work?
In this economy?
We get it, so do we – and being detail-oriented may be more important than ever.
With professionals slowly returning to offices across the country but the majority of workers still at home, it can be a challenge for even the most experienced and dedicated workers to keep their focus on work during what would normally be business hours.
For those working at home, distractions are a daily issue. They range from caring for (and lately, homeschooling) children, to pets, to distractedness, to the siren call of Netflix, and to a whole host of other things that could easily take away from your work.
As a company that was recently scattered due to the pandemic, we understand these distractions. We’ve found that, when working from home, it’s nearly impossible to work eight full hours straight, since oftentimes unexpected distractions crop up. But when you’re able to sit down at your desk and get into work mode, how can you maximize your time and effort while still putting out your best work even in the worth of circumstances?
Being detail oriented may seem like pure virtue, but oftentimes it can have negative connotations including missing the bigger picture or not being a team player. But the benefits of focusing on the details will help both you and your company in the long run.
As counter intuitive as this sounds, being more detail-oriented saves you time (and money) in the long run. If you’re diligent about checking your work at a detailed level, it will meet a higher standard early on and have fewer mistakes that need to be corrected. This in turn prevents entire projects from either needing to be re-done or requiring additional hours and resources for correcting mistakes. It pays to check your work as many times as you feel is needed. While it might mean a little more work early on, it’s a big savings further down the road.
Regardless of where you work, paying attention to safety rules and regulations, especially in jobs where heavy equipment is used or moved, makes all the difference in keeping workers, equipment, and products safe. Even in low-danger environments like offices, observing and paying attention to signs like “Wet Floor” can prevent accidents and needless wastes of time and money. Keeping workers and equipment operating safely is one way to help you and your business reach full potential, and it’s one of the simplest things you can do.
Arguably the most important benefit of being detail-oriented is clarity. Double checking your work helps with everything from email communication to instructions on a project. If you put out something vague or un-checked, it can lead to misinterpretation about what the email meant, how a project is supposed to be done, or someone not being able to find your business. This is turn creates more back-and-forth to clarify, which can become a real timesuck.
Be sure to take the extra time to look things over and ensure your message is clear and can’t be misconstrued. This ties back into efficiency, because if instructions or orders are correct the first time, it won’t cause a chain reaction that wastes time, money, effort, and resources.
These are just a few of the many benefits that giving extra focus on details brings. If you can bring these to your work and office, they’re certain to strengthen you across the board. But how do you achieve those benefits and begin practicing these things?
Before you start any projects for the day, you should set up a daily schedule that helps you break down what your day holds. In fact, according to Business Insider and top psychologists, this is the most important step someone can take to help ensure focus on your work.
When you have your projects, goals, deadlines, meetings, and other commitments written out, it breaks the day down and helps you focus on one thing at a time. This allows you to give your whole attention to one project at a time, which will lead to fewer mistakes.
Once you have a plan for your day, it’s time to put it into action. Focus your work so you make fewer mistakes going forward; this begins by being detail oriented.
Bonus read: This article from Men’s Journal is full of great suggestions and ways you can hone your focus at work.
Being detail oriented at work is a simple shift for some, since they’ve already developed good at-home detail-oriented habits. But what if combing through the details isn’tsecond nature to you?
Here are some of the easiest ways to start practicing being detail oriented.
Be absolutely certain you know the ins and outs of your job and your superiors’ expectations. For example, If your boss says organizing and auditing the company website is the biggest thing you can do to help right now, then put extra time and energy into that task rather than focusing on smaller, less important tasks at the moment. When you know what is expected of you, it makes it a lot easier to know what details you need to focus on during your work.
As we stated above, checking your work often throughout the process will save you time in the long run. Pause at various points to read what you’ve written and to ensure your graphics make sense. You don’t need to wait until you’ve reached the end to start correcting things and making them better. And while you’re at it, ask for outside help in proofing. Oftentimes we are too close to our work to be fully objective, and an outside perspective can ensure you’re hitting the marks you want to hit. Getting a fresh set of eyes to look things over can make a big difference in your work.
Sometimes the smallest thing can make all the difference. Maybe you remember that a certain font was well-received on a previous email blast or that a tweak to the colors on an slide deck resulted in better engagement. Keep these notes close at hand, because they could prove to be useful in a pinch. Sweating the small stuff maymake it feel like you’re micromanaging at times, but it’s helpful because it can be applied in many places.
Everyone’s heard the adage “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” While this may not be strictly true (anyone who’s hung out with a toddler knows stupid questions exist), asking questions ensures you have as much information as possible to inform your work. This is one of the easiest things to start doing to become more detail oriented. Is this the best way to send an email? Is this the best software for optimizing our work? It may not lead to changes across the board in your job or company but having a critical eye at all times almost forces you to pay more attention to everything happening around you.
Despite the tradition of an eight-hour workday, working for eight hours straight isn’t always the most productive way to work. In fact, according to numerous sources, your brain can’t handle that heavy of a load, and taking breaks throughout the day can actually improveyour attention to detail.
As a general rule for how long you should work before taking a break, you can work for about 90 minutes, tops, before needing a break, and then take 15 minutes for roughly every hour you work after the initial 90 minutes.
When you come to a place you feel comfortable stopping – like when you’ve hit a milestone in pages written, lines coded, or emails sent – it’s OK to check your phone, play a game, go for a walk, or do whatever it is you do to help reset your brain before getting back to work.
The next time someone says that someone is detail-oriented like it’s a bad thing, remember that it’s not! It has a number of benefits that can help any worker or company, including saving time and money. With these suggestions and tips, you can immediately get to work on being more focused on the details, and also making fewer mistakes on your work going forward.
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