In the age of immediacy that we live in, it’s easy to let stuff slip through the cracks, and it’s easy to forget to follow through or follow up. But what does that mean for you and your career?
Nothing good, I can tell you that much.
Follow-through has morphed from a business necessity to an optional after-thought. The standards have plummeted, and businesses and individuals are suffering for it. While it’s easy to brush off a tiny mistake once in awhile, those tiny mistakes easily build up to habitual happenings, which can be seriously detrimental to your professional life. It doesn’t matter how great you look on paper and how well you present yourself: if you don’t have the chops to back it up, you won’t be a successful employee.
So how do you combat forgetfulness, and set yourself up for success?
Well, I’d be happy to share an ancient technique that is guaranteed to boost your follow-through and productivity: the checklist.Yes, ladies and gents, the checklist! While it doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, I promise it’s one of the most effective tools to help get things done. How do I know? Personal experience.
Once upon a time, I worked for an agency as a project manager. I was awful at it. I couldn’t keep anything straight, and would constantly be rushing to finish things I had forgotten to do, leaving a trail of typo’s and misinformation in my wake. Which, of course, just made things worse. I couldn’t get organized, and it was becoming overwhelming. That’s when a dear pal (and one of the best project managers I’ve ever seen) gave me a simple tip: use a checklist.
Now, every morning when I get to work, I make note of every thing that I have to get through that day. If I ever get distracted or lose focus, it’s easy to regroup. I just take a peek at my checklist. Have to call a candidate? It goes on the list. Have to follow-up on an e-mail? Goes on the list. Edit a document for typos? The list. Correct said document? List. Write a thank you note? Go to yoga? Need to buy coffee? List, list, list. You get the point. It’s boosted my follow-through and productivity levels through the roof, and it’s a trick I will use forever. And employer’s notice: trust me.
So do yourself a favor. Focus on your follow-through and follow-up. If you have to send an updated resume to be submitted for a job, do it. If someone calls about an opportunity, call him or her back. If you’ve been submitted and haven’t heard back in a week, send and e-mail. Put it on the list and it will get done.
And if you’re not partial to pen and paper (I’m a fan of the Post-It, myself), check out this sexy little app that the brains behind swissmiss and Fictive Kin have cooked up: www.teuxdeux.com