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  1. #1
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Default Soliciting advice from other Ns

    My inability to pay mind to details and the concrete has been a constant thorn in my side. In particular, my complete inability to fill out forms and paperwork without making small mistakes is becoming a real impediment. I try to focus on the task at hand, but it feels like trying to shove my mind into a test tube. I have a headache after 20 minutes.

    Any ideas on how to manage this irksome tendency?

  2. #2
    Rats off to ya! Mort Belfry's Avatar
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    I've been making heaps of mistakes at work lately about small details. The other month I neglected to take our test number out an eftpos terminal I sent to site and now thousands of the merchant's dollars have gone into our account and we can't figure out how much it is now.

    The merchant doesn't know yet, but come time for their stocktake they're going to be - pretty bummed.

    What I've started to do is keep a checklist for myself for each job I do and tick it off at every point as I have trouble remembering that I've done everything even when I actually have. It slows down what I do just a tad, even though I am supposed to get everything out every day, but I reason that not making these mistakes is probably more important.
    Why do we always come here?

    I guess we'll never know.

    It's like a kind of torture,
    To have to watch this show.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lookin4theBestNU's Avatar
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    :steam: I feel your pain and I hate it. Paperwork has proven to be one of my biggest personal challenges at work. I always thought it odd since I'm a J. I should in fact be a pencil-pushing machine (right?)! I discovered one of my biggest problems with it is procrastination. I wait until it piles up and then accuracy becomes an issue. I TRY now to do it as it arises....a little at a time. I think this is the true answer to the problem. What usually happens though is I attempt various methods of organization hoping that will cure the issue instead of actually just doing it. You will find me finally going into my office (when enough people bug me for it) closing the door blocking ALL distraction and doing stacks of it all at once! Hopefully someone else has a better solution.
    "At points of clarity, I realize that my life on earth is meaningless, and that I am merely a pawn in a bigger game. A game I cannot possibly understand or have control of. Thankfully, before depression sets in, I drift back into my cloudy, bewildered daily routine." **Joel Patrick Warneke**

  4. #4
    Senior Member alcea rosea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    My inability to pay mind to details and the concrete has been a constant thorn in my side. In particular, my complete inability to fill out forms and paperwork without making small mistakes is becoming a real impediment. I try to focus on the task at hand, but it feels like trying to shove my mind into a test tube. I have a headache after 20 minutes.

    Any ideas on how to manage this irksome tendency?
    I have the same problem that's why I always fill all the paperwork and forms in pencil and later use pen on top of it (and erase the pencil marks from it). I usually have at least 2 copies of papers + forms because usually I mess up at least one.

    If I have to fill out a form online, I usually print it out after filling it out and make sure somebody checks it for me (somebody with eye for details) before sending it out.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    My inability to pay mind to details and the concrete has been a constant thorn in my side. In particular, my complete inability to fill out forms and paperwork without making small mistakes is becoming a real impediment. I try to focus on the task at hand, but it feels like trying to shove my mind into a test tube. I have a headache after 20 minutes.

    Any ideas on how to manage this irksome tendency?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lookin4theBestNU View Post
    :steam: I feel your pain and I hate it. Paperwork has proven to be one of my biggest personal challenges at work. I always thought it odd since I'm a J. I should in fact be a pencil-pushing machine (right?)! I discovered one of my biggest problems with it is procrastination. I wait until it piles up and then accuracy becomes an issue. I TRY now to do it as it arises....a little at a time. I think this is the true answer to the problem. What usually happens though is I attempt various methods of organization hoping that will cure the issue instead of actually just doing it. You will find me finally going into my office (when enough people bug me for it) closing the door blocking ALL distraction and doing stacks of it all at once! Hopefully someone else has a better solution.
    It's a paperwork world these days. There's no getting around it.

    For me, a big help is to do most of my "brainless activities" (admin stuff) in small doses (10-20 minutes on each activity) as the first tasks of the day when I'm still alert.

    IOW, on workdays the first tasks I do after I get settled in my office are checking investments (transcribing numbers), filing the previous day's paperwork, answering e-mails, and filling out admin paperwork. Those things help me break into the day because they don't require a lot of concentration, and they allow me to procrastinate a bit before digging into the day's big jobs while still being productive. And since I do them every morning in small chunks when I'm alert, it's not a big deal to dash them out, check them over, and get them right.

    Same thing at home. If I have some time available for puttering around the house, then the first thing I tackle is paperwork--bills, forms, filing. Put in about 20-30 minutes on it, get it out of the way while I'm alert, and then I'm ready to move onto something bigger.

    The key, of course, is to make it a habit. In my case, I've been doing these paperwork tasks so long that I actually see them as relaxing--a "brainless" way to procrastinate a bit and still be productive before digging into the day's big projects.

    I have other tricks for other situations. For example if I'm translating a long document over several days and have to proofread my own work, then I consider that as two separate tasks (the initial translating tends to be N work and the proofreading tends to be S work) and I separate the proofing from the translation by a night of sleep. So I translate on day 1, then I spend the first hour or two of day 2 proofing the work from day 1 before picking up the translation work again, etc.

    Another trick: If I have an urgent translation that has to be absolutely perfect and I have to do the translating and proofing the same day: Once I'm finished with the translating I try to take a break before the proofing to clear my head; and then at the end of the day when it comes time to proofread the translation I read each sentence out loud--first from the source text and then from the translated text. It's time-consuming, but the ear and tongue catch the errors that the eye misses, and it doesn't require a tremendous amount of concentration.

    As Mort suggested, when something requires multiple steps or multiple components I draw up a checklist and post it on the wall right in front of me. I also keep a "to do" list in front of me and note things on it all day long so that I don't have to remember things in my head. I take the scribbled version of the list and update it on my computer the next morning for a clean print-out as part of my morning "brainless activities."

    But getting back to things like admin paperwork and double-checking for accuracy: If you're doing a task that requires you to work with a weak function (like filling out forms and proofreading for errors), then I think the starting point is to do the work in short bursts and schedule it for a time when you're still fairly fresh and alert--IOW, get in the habit of doing those sorts of admin/detail tasks in small batches first thing in the morning before you jump into the day's main projects.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    then I spend the first hour or two of day 2 proofing the work from day 1 before picking up the translation work again, etc.
    By the way, if I have to do a *lot* of revising and proofreading, that can be miserable, detail-oriented work that tires me quickly. On the other hand, since it's detail work, it doesn't need to be done in one long session--it's highly divisible and interruptible. So I tend to do it in small bursts with lots of interruptions--I schedule that kind of work on busy days when I have other things going on, I do the work on the train on the way to and from work, etc.

    It stretches the work out, but the interruptions keep me fresh and it's easy to pick the work up and put it down again repeatedly all day long.

  7. #7
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    there are 2 ways for me to fill out paperwork.

    1) someone else is gonna get screwed over if i don't
    2) ritalin

    otherwise, it's not happening.

  8. #8
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lookin4theBestNU View Post
    Paperwork has proven to be one of my biggest personal challenges at work. I always thought it odd since I'm a J.... I discovered one of my biggest problems with it is procrastination. I wait until it piles up and then accuracy becomes an issue... You will find me finally going into my office (when enough people bug me for it) closing the door blocking ALL distraction and doing stacks of it all at once!
    You're such a P!!! The method you describe is how I generally complete almost anything with a due date attached!

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    For me, a big help is to do most of my "brainless activities" (admin stuff) in small doses (10-20 minutes on each activity) as the first tasks of the day when I'm still alert.
    A great idea, as are the others you posted which I didn't quote. I do similar things to what you mentioned to make the details more bearable.

    Fortunately, I have to do very little paperwork, but when I do, I usually just blow through it as if I'm competing with myself for how quickly I can get it done. This hasn't caused any major problems, except one time our dental insurance declined to pay for my wife's dental exam/cleaning because their records indicated she was only 6 months old! A simple call corrected that, and they paid it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chaselation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lookin4theBestNU View Post
    :steam: I feel your pain and I hate it. Paperwork has proven to be one of my biggest personal challenges at work. I always thought it odd since I'm a J. I should in fact be a pencil-pushing machine (right?)! I discovered one of my biggest problems with it is procrastination. I wait until it piles up and then accuracy becomes an issue. I TRY now to do it as it arises....a little at a time. I think this is the true answer to the problem. What usually happens though is I attempt various methods of organization hoping that will cure the issue instead of actually just doing it. You will find me finally going into my office (when enough people bug me for it) closing the door blocking ALL distraction and doing stacks of it all at once! Hopefully someone else has a better solution.
    I do this as well but tend to make a game of it. How much can I do in the least amount of time. The key is to wait...wait... but not too long. There is a least a kernel of challenge in doing the mundane quicker more efficiently then the common man.

    Depending on your situation if you can lessen the tedium on the pretense of doing your employer a favor all the better.

  10. #10
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    My inability to pay mind to details and the concrete has been a constant thorn in my side. In particular, my complete inability to fill out forms and paperwork without making small mistakes is becoming a real impediment. I try to focus on the task at hand, but it feels like trying to shove my mind into a test tube. I have a headache after 20 minutes.

    Any ideas on how to manage this irksome tendency?
    I am a nightmare with paperwork. I routinely turned my monthly expense reports in a day or so late at one of my jobs. It would take me seriously hours to do and I would have to reprint and reprint because of errors. I think for a 'pro' it could take as little as 30 minutes altogether.

    For me, corrective measures would have been simple.

    1) Peaceful environment. Or at least uncluttered and undistracting. I had to spread out to do the report so I ended up on the floor a lot...in front of the tv...which was on to my favorite Tivoed programs. BAD idea.

    2) Give yourself enough time. You can break it up, you can do it at once, but you have to mentally give yourself time so you can relax and focus. If you plan out your day/week/month and you allocate time and know you have to do it at that time, hopefully you're more likely to be efficient. I always waited till the last minute because I hated it.

    3) Keep track of things before you reconcile them on paper. For my expense report, we were supposed to keep all our receipts and keep them separate by group. The more organized I kept the receipts and kept my daily schedule, the easier it was to do the paperwork later.

    4) Get familiar with what the paperwork actually is -- instead of feeling like a monkey stamping a report, it helps to know exactly what the purpose of the paperwork is and what it entails. You are less likely to make mistakes, plus if you actually understand what's going on, you're more likely to be relaxed, confident, and efficient. And less likely to make mistakes. You might even find some loopholes that could help you!

    5) Bite sized chunks? -- For some paperwork that basically tracks a timeline, you may want to do some parts bit by bit as they come instead of waiting till the last minute. Or at least keep good records (3) so it's easier to find the info you need.

    Just think, if you get good enough in your career, you can have an assistant or secretary to do all the work for you!

    Good luck!

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