Take Time to Do it Right

… or…
Slow down; you’re moving too fast.

Christmas cookiesI love to cook.

I especially love to bake – a skill I picked up from my mom. I’m actually good at it, too. I’m the pie baker, cookie maker and cake provider for my extended family. If the occasion calls for dessert, nine times out of 10 I’m bringing it, and 99 times out of 100 it will be homemade.

But I’m also very distractable and have a hard time stopping myself from multi-tasking. If I’m not being fully challenged by a task, I sometimes let my mind drift forward to the next job. Given an opportunity, I look for another challenge.

The danger with this is that I can then forget to finish the first task properly. My brain wants to move on to something else, to keep itself fully occupied. In short, I sometimes have what Paul Simon so eloquently called a “short little span of attention.”

Paired with baking, this is not a great combination.

Really? Did you have to try to do 2 things at once?

So while I’m perfectly capable of turning out the perfect pie, cake or cookie… I’m just as capable of crafting the ultimate disaster. I once made a pair of pumpkin pies and forgot to add the pumpkin pie spice. Seriously. And that’s not the worst of it – because when I really get distracted, I get hurt. More than once I have grabbed a hot tray of cookies or muffins with my bare hand. Ouch. Once I even started to push a hot oven rack back into position while I was not holding a pot holder. (A friend brought me the most amazing burn ointment that time, something from Japan with an ingredients list that I cannot read; I have no idea what’s in it, and I don’t care. It works!)

So as I stood at the stove this evening, grilling up a sandwich for my son but feeling my mind begin to wander elsewhere, I realized that it was time to take a deep breath… and slow down. Invest the 10 minutes or so that it would require to actually produce a decent culinary result without injuring or embarrassing myself. Nothing burned, no one injured.

Yes, I managed to do it. After all, it’s not like it’s really difficult to grill a sandwich, right?

And that’s my lesson for the day. It’s far too easy to get distracted or lose focus, and just not get a job done right.

I think it happens to everyone. Whether at home or at work, particularly with routine tasks, it’s easy to become distracted or complacent and pay less than 100% attention. And if that happens, your work will suffer. You’ll do work you’re not proud of, or waste time doing it over to get it right. Even if your family, friends or co-workers don’t notice, you will, and you’ll feel worse for it.

Don’t let that happen. Just take a deep breath… and focus.

Share the love with your team

And if you’re a manager, make sure you give your employees space – and time – to do the same. Don’t push them to hit unrealistic deadlines that will make both them and you unhappy with their work. Don’t assume that they can write that blog post or press release or ad copy in an hour just because you know they’re talented; give them an opportunity to be creative and produce something stellar rather than something so-so. And give them opportunities to break their routine and work on projects that are out of the ordinary for them as well, to create a break that might help revive them.

Everyone will be happier for it.

This was my “One Moment” discovery this week — the moment that made me pause and appreciate life more. Do you ever have One Moment that gives you pause? Share it in the comments below, or through the One Moment online meetup.

om [one moment] meet up


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