The common saying goes, “We all make mistakes. It’s how we come back from the mistakes that matter.” If you make a mistake at work, don’t beat yourself for it. Instead, you should learn from your mistakes and find ways how to be more careful at work.
Here, I’m going to give you 15 ways to avoid careless mistakes at work. This way, you can be sure that you’re doing the very best you can. In turn, it will help you produce great outcomes in whatever you do. But before that…
What Are Common Careless Mistakes at Work?
Depending on the industry, there are many kinds of mistakes that workers can make. Here is a list of the most common mistakes in the workplace (see if you fit into any of these categories):
- Spelling and grammar errors.
- Bad time management.
- Not understanding a task.
- Forget to complete a task.
- Punch in incorrect data.
- Miss deadlines.
- Email the wrong person.
- Miscalculate data reports.
- Neglect to follow company policies and procedures.
- Poor delegation of tasks.
- Lack of attention to detail.
What to Do After Making Mistakes at Work?
Here’s one thing you should NOT do – bombard your mind with thoughts such as “You are not good enough”, “you did this wrong”, “I made too many stupid and silly mistakes”, etc. That won’t help you at all.
Instead, you first need to admit to yourself and others your errors and mistakes. Yes, it’s a good thing to acknowledge your mistakes. This is the first step to becoming better.
Kishore Shintre, the Co-Founder of #NewDayNewChapter, says:
“Don’t be ashamed to accept you have been wrong, accepting one’s mistakes makes you stronger and hit back harder.”
After that, it’s also wise to address your feelings. No doubt you’ll feel frustrated or embarrassed when you make dumb mistakes at work. That’s fine. However, you need to get rid of that feeling as soon as possible and respond more positively. Work to improve your performance so you don’t make the same mistake.
If your mistake affected others, it’s best to sincerely apologize for it. Remember, you can’t undo the mistake, so the right thing to do is apologize and work to avoid doing the same thing. There’s nothing a genuine apology won’t fix.
If necessary, you should also find a solution. Now, the solution can be as simple as apologizing to someone or as long as working late hours to resolve the mistake. If your mistake puts an extra workload on someone else, try to help them as much as you can.
15 Ways to Avoid Careless Mistakes at Work
To make fewer mistakes at work, you should follow these 15 how to be more careful at work examples:
- Get clarity about expectations
- Start your work before the deadlines
- Optimize your work environment
- Review previous work to identify patterns
- Create a workflow schedule
- Double-check your work
- Use organizational tools
- Put extra effort into tasks prone to errors
- Focus on one task at a time
- Take regular breaks
- Solicit feedback
- Get a second set of eyes
- Eliminate distractions
- Slow down
- Continuous learning and improvement
1. Get clarity about expectations
When you don’t fully understand expectations or instructions, the chances of an error-free work are low. This is why it’s always a good idea to know exactly what is expected from you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This will not only help you avoid mistakes but boost your productivity as well.
2. Start your work before the deadlines
If you wait until the very last minute to do a task, you’ll start to rush. And when you rush, there is a big chance of making a mistake. Monica Mahi Mathijs, a Career Development Coach, gives a good example of this:
“I have seen people rush to catch the train or bus and end up slipping or getting stuck between the doors of the train.”
To avoid mistakes at work, you need to mark the deadline of a certain task and start it as early as possible. Another good strategy is to see which tasks have a tight deadline and focus on those before moving to other tasks.
3. Optimize your work environment
One way to avoid making mistakes is to optimize your work environment. That can mean organizing your things, making your workspace comfortable, having the appropriate lighting, and using appropriate tools and software, to name a few things. This will put you in the right mindset to produce quality of work.
4. Review previous work to identify patterns
If you’re given a task similar to something you’ve already done, it’s a good idea to review your previous work. If it’s a completely new task, you can review the work of others.
If the previous work was met with praise, then you know what kind of quality or standard is expected. Once you get the pattern or flow, it will be easier for you to minimize errors.
5. Create a workflow schedule
Some tips to help you avoid errors are to create a to-do list or make a checklist every single day, week, or month. With this, you’ll know what tasks are most important and which should be done first. You will have an organized picture of what the day’s workflow should look like.
According to SmallBusiness.chron.com:
“Disorganization can cause employees to confuse dates, mix up assignments, miss deadlines and, in turn, this makes them unreliable and undependable.”
A workflow schedule will avoid all that.
6. Double-check your work
No matter how focused you are on a task, you may still make a mistake. It is said that people make 3 to 6 mistakes per hour. That’s a lot! This is why it’s always a MUST to carefully review your work. Go over it slowly, once or twice (or even thrice), before submitting it.
7. Use organizational tools
We already confirmed that you make fewer mistakes if you’re organized. But it might take too much time to do everything manually. If you want to work more efficiently, you can use organizational tools such as Trello, Evernote, RescueTime, Google Drive, Slack, Google Calendar, and the list goes on.
8. Put extra effort into tasks prone to errors
If a task is harder and more prone to errors, you should be even more careful. You can choose to do it first thing so that you’re not tired yet. Remember, when you’re still fresh, there are fewer chances of making careless mistakes.
However, make sure that you don’t prioritize it too much so that you fly past the other easy or least important tasks. No, you need to have a good strategy to produce high-quality work every single time.
9. Focus on one task at a time
It’s never good to multitask. If you do this, your mind will be everywhere, and making errors will be very likely. No, you need to give your full attention to one task at a time if you want to do the best you can at it.
Besides that, multitasking may also inhibit your creativity, cause anxiety, and be a waste of time instead of a productive time.
10. Take regular breaks
Work burnout is real. The more tired you are, the more mistakes you might make. If not that, tiredness or burnout can make you just not care about mistakes anymore. To avoid any of that, always take breaks. Even if you take a break from work for a few minutes, that can already reduce mistakes.
11. Solicit feedback
Sometimes you don’t realize you’re making a mistake. In this case, you’ll likely make similar mistakes again and again. That will only make it harder to recover.
This is why it’s always a good idea to ask for feedback on your tasks. Let your manager review your work and see how you did. This will also help them spot mistakes that they didn’t see in the first place. All in all, feedback will help everyone.
12. Get a second set of eyes
This is similar to my previous point. If you’re not yet confident to submit your work to your boss, then have someone else review it first. This can be a coworker that you trust.
More often than not, we can’t see the mistakes we make. But by getting a second eye, even small mistakes can be found. You can avoid the frustration and/or embarrassment.
13. Eliminate distractions
Mistakes in your work can be due to distractions. This is why you should avoid distractions. If a messy desk distracts you, make sure to organize it. If loud noises distract you, find a way to work in a quiet environment. If people come and talk to you, setting work boundaries will help you remain focused until you can take a break.
14. Slow down
Again, mistakes happen more often if you rush. This is why you should always remind yourself to slow down. This is also why it’s a good idea to start early before the deadline. You’ll have time to take a few breaks, work on it more carefully, and whatnot.
15. Continuous learning and improvement
Even if you follow all the techniques and strategies to stop making errors, I can assure you that you will still make mistakes in the future. But don’t let that get to you. You need to adopt a positive attitude. Make it a time to learn from your mistakes and improve on it.
Here’s a simple example. You might knock your coffee and ruin the documents you just prepared. No amount of strategy can help you avoid that. To learn from the experience and improve, you’ll know not to keep your coffee near important documents.
Mistakes at work are inevitable. You can’t avoid it. But if you want to know how to be more careful at work, you can follow the 15 examples that I gave here. All this will help you avoid making even more mistakes.