Oh, man… details. I’m normally a pretty detail-oriented person, but occasionally I let things slip. It usually happens when I’m tired or have too much on my plate. One week, I missed a flight because I went to the wrong airport and missed a train because I had the stations reversed. It made me take a step back and evaluate how I was letting the details slip through my fingers. Maxie has amazing tips that work for everyone, detail-oriented or (especially) not!
Photo by Carter Fish
Devil’s in the Details – How to be Better at Them
Guest post by Maxie McCoy
Whether you like it or not, the little things matter, especially when you’re working towards big things. From day-to-day, obsessing over the tiny stuff won’t do anything but make you crazy. However, sometimes major moments call for equally as intentional attention to detail. And not just paying attention to it but keeping up with it, too.
But what if details don’t come easily to you? First, it probably means that you have an entirely different skill set altogether. You’re most likely someone that’s great at big-picture thinking and seeing the big ole magical forest instead of each tree.
Regardless, magic is often made in the small stuff. So if you’ve got your eye on the prize and want to ensure you don’t miss a beat, the details are where it’s at. Everything from college applications to turning in that first project at your internship to simply crushing a presentation for all the big bosses at work – the last thing you want is to miss something silly that reflects poorly on your ability to make sure the small stuff is taken care of.
Details do not come easily to me. It’s something I’ve had to learn to do (the hard way) time and time again. I’ve screwed up emails, presentations, dates, travel times… the works. And while I’ve worked to be someone who can keep up with it all, I’ve also learned a few strategies to be someone who can cross my T’s and dot my I’s with way less stress – ensuring that the quality of what I’m doing doesn’t get a dark cloud over it because of one tiny missed detail.
Leave and come back
When you’ve spent a ton of time on something, that’s often when the details that you miss ruffle your feathers the most. How did I not catch that?? Well, because often the best way to perfect something is to leave it alone. Drop it. From your eyes, from your energy, from your mind. Give it hours or even days if you can, and then come back to it. You’ll catch most things that way.
Ask for help
Sometimes you just need a second set of eyes and ears to review something you’ve created, a speech you’ve prepared, a negotiation you’re thinking of having. No matter what it is, bringing a trusted voice into the fold is a strong safeguard for the details. So, think about who’s great at catching all the little things and ask them to review or help you. I do this all the time.
Read out loud
Our brains are SO good at autocorrecting – they see what we meant to write. If you’re known to mess up details in emails, documents, resumes, or presentations like spelling or grammar, reading what you’ve put together out loud is something I always, always do.
Write it all down
I know that you probablyyyyy think you can remember it all. But you just can’t. And you shouldn’t have to! When you remember something small, put it in the notes on your phone. When you remember something you need to do, put it on your list. You’ll miss way less that way. And if there are big projects you need to track, ask your best excel-making friend to send you a spreadsheet template for tracking.
Do one thing at a time
Multi-tasking isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. And dividing your attention is a great way to be doing a lot of things OK but nothing well. If you’ve got something important that you want to make sure is fully taken care of, details and all, do just that thing. Put your phone away. Turn the wifi off. Clear out all the tabs. Go away from all the people. And focus.
Details can matter. And mistakes will always happen so learn to let them go when they do. Hopefully, however, these strategies will help you make less forced errors.
For more great tips and inspiring advice from Maxie, get her emails here.