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Stress, Haste and Fatigue UP, Accuracy DOWN

StressRay is a small business owner who does most of his bookkeeping after hours from home.  In the last quarter of the year, he’s getting some phone orders. He knows he shouldn’t be posting hand-recorded charge slip amounts to the credit card company late at night when he’s exhausted, but he desperately wants to feel caught up for the week and post the payments. In fact, he’s busy arguing with his wife about the hours he’s been keeping as he taps the figures into the remote virtual terminal: “I just want to finish this up!”  However, the charge won’t go through; his screen keeps telling him that payment is “DENIED.” It’s not the first time Ray has lost money on a credit card transaction, and he is furious to be left holding the bag again. He can’t reach customer service until business hours, so he shuts down his system, grumbling all the while, and goes to bed. He wakes up angry but decides to try posting one more time before calling and giving someone a piece of his mind. In the fresh light of a new day, he discovers that he tried to collect $9500 instead of $95—no wonder the system performed an override!

Here are some suggestions to avoid making mistakes when working on tasks requiring accuracy:

  1. Schedule tasks requiring high accuracy when you are alert; not late, when you are tired.
  2. Schedule brief work periods for tasks that are detailed or boring.
  3. Take the extra time to check your accuracy prior to clicking send, especially if you are tired or irritated.
  4. Take frequent breaks when you are doing important legal, medical, or financial tasks.
  5. Stop multitasking when you need to complete tasks with speed and accuracy.

During the last quarter of the year, take special care to complete your business chores when you are not fatigued, distracted or highly stressed.

You’ll be amazed by the amount you can accomplish in 20-minute work sessions when you are alert and focused. Ray learned his lesson:  fatigue and distraction can result in clumsy fingers and wandering eyes.  When the stakes are high, you need to bring your A-game to the process of inputting important information.  You can’t rest easy on the (information) Cloud unless you’ve made sure that the data you store there is correct.

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