“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” ~ Coach John Wooden
Growing up, my brother, sister and I all had “weekend chores” around the house we had to complete before we could go and play with our friends. It might be dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes or cleaning the bathroom. But whatever it was, we wanted to finish fast, so we could get outside and play.
The problem was my mother would sometimes come around and check to make sure we did a good job, or she would make us do it again. This happened more than I like to remember. I can hear her now admonishing me: “If you had done it right the first time, you wouldn’t have to do it again.”
My parents taught us kids lots of things growing up, (as parents tend to do) but this really stayed with me, especially in the business world. Do it right the first time.
Sometimes this isn’t always possible. You might have a deadline to meet, or you’re receiving pressure from co-workers to finish up to move the project along. Maybe you have too many projects you’re working on at the same time, so you put pressure on yourself. And of course, not doing it right the first time will create even more work having to correct it.
Doing it right the first time also relates to your customer service and making sure you fix the customer’s problems and concerns correctly the first time. There is nothing more damaging to the reputation of a company than having to fix a problem repeatedly. It’s one of the main reasons a customer will look elsewhere, and we all know how important repeat business is to the bottom line.
What’s a professional to do?
I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t start out trying to do a bad job, it just ends up that way. Borrowing from a famous quote, “You only get one chance to do things right the first time.”
Some tips to remember:
- Give yourself enough time to properly plan your projects. Don’t leave it until the last minute, as inevitably something will come up or go wrong when you least expect it.
- Prioritize. Once you can see a list of everything you are working on, it is important to prioritize according to due dates and length of time to complete.
- Do not multitask. You may think you can do two or more things at one time, but you cannot concentrate on more than one thing at a time. There really is no such thing as multi-tasking; it is more like rapid task switching.
- Work on only one main task at a time. While you will always have more tasks to complete every day (emails, reports, meetings, financials, etc.), make sure the main priority has your full attention.
- Limit pressure from your peers and yourself. If you are running out of time, make sure you advise all those who need to be kept informed. Don’t wait until the last minute to let them know you need more time. The sooner you can keep everyone up-to-date, the better.
- Be proactive-don’t assume. If you think you’ll be getting help or information from others, check with them in advance to make sure you are on the same page. The last thing you want to hear is: “I thought Bob was going to do that.”
- Double and triple check your work. Better that you find any mistakes before your boss does.
Doing things right the first time should be a mantra you are prepared to live by. It means you can be counted on, are professional, can manage your time and can take on more responsibility. Your customers will notice it, your employees will notice it, and most important, your bottom line will thank you for it.