The first time I went through a bank drive thru after I got my driver’s license, I drove off with little cylinder you use to send stuff through the air chute. I didn’t notice it until I got to my next stop. Mortified, I drove back to the same drive thru lane to return it. The teller assured me that it happened more than often than you might think. Luckily I’ve never done it again.
In the rush of doing something new for the very first time, I got caught up in the moment. The same things happens when we decide to tackle a new project. Whether it’s something small, like a white paper, or something big, like a business-wide content strategy, we tend to rush our fences.
Fascinated By the New and Shiny
In our pursuit of the new and shiny, it’s very easy to not finish projects. In the bank drive thru I was so focused on things like making sure my mirrors didn’t hit the poles and endorsing the check that I didn’t complete the task. Instead I raced off to the next thing on my list only to discover I needed to go back.
Every time we have to go back to a project because we rushed off to something new is wasted time. We lose the time going back. We lose the time we could be working on our next project. And perhaps most importantly, we lose that sense of satisfaction that something that was checked off the list now isn’t.
Questioning Our Skills
Why does satisfaction matter? Because it’s connected to the way we view our ability. If we’re constantly redoing things, it starts to have a impact. We go from believing in our skills, to questioning our competency. This slide gets in the way of getting things done efficiently, particularly when it comes to creating content. When you’re dealing with a medium that’s built a word at a time, the last thing you want to happen is the belief you need to question every keystroke.
Embrace the Challenge
We will still make mistakes, and we can’t obsess over every detail forever. But these three rules will help you avoid driving off with plastic cylinders AND having to return to projects you thought finished:
- Make a checklist. While written checklists are preferable, at minimum, establish a set of routines for each time of project that you follow every time. The initial process of creating the checklist may be tedious and time consuming, but it will prevent many headaches in the future.
- Finish what you start. It’s tempting to hand off projects or tell yourself that you’ll get back to something. You’ll probably regret both. Unless you’re required to give the project to someone else, see things through to the end. The same applies for getting back to something later. Try to keep your work flow as consistent as possible.
- Look around one last time. Before hitting publish, send, or doing anything permanent, take the time to look through things one last time. You’ll be surprised at the things you catch on that last pass.
It will always seem like the project list only seems to grow. However, we can avoid re-adding things to the list if we don’t get distracted and really finish things instead of pushing them aside.