Not wasting time should apply to all aspects of your life. Rather than write encouraging words about living your life to the fullest while waiting in line at the grocery store, I’ll instead focus on the professional side of things: don’t waste the time of others and don’t waste your own.
Let’s say that you’re tasked with setting something up in a particular way. You were trained by someone, received instructions, and things seemed to be working well. You give it another try later on and something just doesn’t work.
What do you do?
If it were me, it would depend on the situation. If it were something small, I’d either make sure I understood the instructions correctly or run through the process again to see if it breaks in the same place. If it were more impactful, I’d think about what is happening versus what should be happening, so in a way I’d rehearse my question, then check in with someone else.
For me at least, that’s what I call my double check, and it’ll normally catch the small stuff. Of course, that also requires a certain level of confidence in feeling like you know what you’re doing, regardless of whether you actually do or not, because sometimes when I ask or have been asked about situations that were like this, it was because we miss something along the way.
- Two approaches that aren’t great when asking for help:
- Too early in the process. You won’t commit to memory what you need to learn. You might keep making the same mistakes. You’ve wasted the time of others.
- Too late in the process. You spin your wheels on working on something. You get frustrated and jump to conclusions. You’ve wasted your own time.
There’s something to be said for placing a part of the process in “off-brain storage” to make a pun on “off-site storage.” The HTML code to make a non-bulleted was “<li style=”list-style-type: none;”>Two approaches…</li>” and I haven’t committed to memory yet. I learned the trick about two weeks ago and it’s become very handy, however, when I need to use it, I just refer to the document where I initially used the trick. There’s also the conflict between the time finding the particular document versus committing it to memory.
While much of this is probably obvious, and nothing really happened recently to inspire this reminder, the big thing to remember is to just act with respect for the process overall.
I’ve told many people over the years.
The only dumb question is one not asked.
A well-researched question is almost like a gift. It shows a respect for the craft, in wanting to be better at the process, as well as trying to figure it out on one’s own.
To avoid wasting time, you should always look to asking questions that are thoughtful, show a little bit of effort, and might lead to a pushing of the boundaries of knowledge for everyone involved. “Don’t know it? Cool.”