When in Doubt, Check it Out by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

As a busy professional, there can be many things that legitimately get in our way of reaching our daily goals. Crises at work must be managed, as well as crises at home. However, sometimes we’re simply our own worst enemy, causing ourselves our biggest headaches of the day by simply not prioritizing correctly, not asking the right questions, or not planning ahead.

We can greatly increase our productivity by learning to avoid these pitfalls. One of the biggest is making assumptions about what we are expected to do or how we are expected to do something. There is nothing worse than working hard to complete a project only to realize you either didn’t accomplish the project’s goals or you didn’t do it correctly. Problems like this can plague us in everything from simple household tasks to large, complex work projects. The bigger the project, the more problematic it will be if we don’t get it right the first time.

Don’t Let Your Pride Get in the Way

Sometimes we fail to ask questions out of fear of looking stupid, or because we think we should know how to do something. This is a huge mistake, regardless of the reason behind it. You sully your reputation much more by making assumptions about how to do something and then doing it wrong than by asking questions or gaining clarification.

Don’t Waste Your Time Doing It Wrong

Protect your time by ensuring you really understand what is expected of you before you begin any task. Seek clarification by explaining your perception of how to perform the task to see if you are on the right track. If not, seek further clarification. In some cases, it’s a wise idea to ask if there are written objectives or instructions.

It takes far less time to ask a few questions than to have to do something over again, and it hurts your pride a lot less, too!

Once you get in the habit of ensuring you truly understand the requirements of any project, you may find that you gain some precious time in your work day because you don’t have to repeat steps or entire projects. This can help you to be more productive and have more free time, as well.