Preventing Careless Mistakes

The end of Tuesday night’s St. Louis Blues versus Los Angeles Kings hockey game was the result of a careless mistake. The Kings’ goalie was clearing the puck from behind his net—something goalies do often—when a Blues player skated in, stole the puck and stuffed it into the unblocked goal. The goalie had played well up to that moment. But a careless mistake cost him and his team the game.

In life and in business, a careless mistake can put a blemish on an otherwise stellar effort. A recent marketing email I prepared for a client went out with a word missing in the copy. The email had a great open rate and a good click rate and will, I am confident, prove to be effective for my client. But my time spent writing, composing and rewriting rendered a slightly flawed result.

An alert I sent to media in a remote market contained a misspelling of a local town name. Otherwise, the alert was crisply written and communicated information well enough to generate coverage for my client. But I was chagrined when my mistake was noted.

None of us are perfect or ever will be. Errors will occur. But here are ways to prevent some of these careless mistakes from happening:

  1. Have a second and third pair of eyes. Share your work with co-workers or friends for review.
  2. Use spelling and grammar check.
  3. Use Google to determine spellings, definitions and synonyms.
  4. Sleep on it. Write today, post tomorrow. When you look at your work the day after you write it, you may spot a glaring booboo.
  5. Hesitate before you click “send” on that email. And don’t just check your copy. Check your recipients list as well. Do any need to be on the “Bcc” line?
  6. Wear your glasses. If you have vision issues, put them on. If you have vanity issues, get contacts. You may miss even simple screw-ups if you can’t see them clearly.
  7. Have a cup of coffee. It can help you focus.
  8. Slow down. That’s easy for me to say. But remember that many deadlines are not absolute. And most people would rather work be good than fast.
  9. Take note of the errors you’ve made in the past and work to prevent similar errors from happening again.
  10. When playing goalie in the NHL, don’t be nonchalant when clearing the puck from behind the net.
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