THE BLOG

It Pays to Pay Attention to Details

04/26/2015 10:32 EDT | Updated 06/26/2015 05:59 EDT
Kris Hanke via Getty Images

I was out for a run today about the same time the kids were coming home from school. At the end of my street the school bus was stopped, red lights flashing. A car turned onto the street and drove right past the school bus. I waved my hands to get the driver's attention, but it was already too late because he had driven through the flashing lights.

The good news is that no one was hit; no one was hurt. The bad news is that the driver was distracted and missed the flashing lights. The consequences could have been huge.

At work, consequences aren't usually so dire (unless you are a surgeon or a paramedic), but the details still do matter.

Do you know how many emails you get each day that you shouldn't be receiving? When I teach my time management programs, I ask this and very rarely does anyone know the answer. If you know how many junk emails are in your in-box every day, you can calculate how much time is wasted in reading and deleting them.

Can you tell, at a glance, what your schedule is for the next week? Or do you need to find your BlackBerry or iPhone and open the app that tells you that? What is a better use of your time while you're sitting in the office?

How about your bank account balance (within $100), your vacation dates, your Zumba class schedule, or your child's next day off school?

For those of you allergic to details you are probably wondering why these details matter. They matter because they add up to a more efficient use of your time. When you're not paying attention you are making mistakes, wasting time, potentially wasting money and causing undue stress for yourself.

I'll bet the man driving the car today was distracted by something. Perhaps it was his cell phone, or his radio, or even his coffee. Maybe he was thinking about an important meeting at work. His mind was obviously elsewhere. But missing that one little detail could have been very expensive for him. In Ontario the fine for driving through school bus lights is $200. That's cheap compared to the potential cost.

When we're at work we often multi-task; we're deep in thought and we often don't pay attention to the little things. Not paying attention to details at work and not being efficient can cost you much more than $200. It could cost you your job or your reputation. On the other hand, paying attention to them and working more efficiently could earn you a raise or a promotion.

So start paying attention to what matters. Be time-smart, be aware and start to notice the details that can make a difference to you and your reputation.