It took me days to think about what would be best to talk about this month. I had nothing. If I were a writer, I'd call it "writer's block". So what did I do? I asked around. What would people like to know? Most of them said to talk about my journey in the VA world as they think my story is one "success story" that people would like to hear or in this case, read about. I thought, "Why not?"! It's my birth month!
We are mostly fans of “To-Do List” to organize ourselves, making sure we don’t miss out on important things and help us prioritize and focus on the “right” things to do that day. I am the same. I have a checklist of things I need to do for the day and the list changes every day. Aside from this list, however, I have a list of things that I shouldn’t be doing. This list doesn’t change daily but adjustments are done when necessary.
I aim to make this short so instead of talking about my 11 years in this industry which I know will bore you, we are going to talk about Deth's "NOT TO DO List". It's a long list so I selected some that I know helped me most start my journey and paved my way to success...
"Being absent" should not be on Deth's to-do list and neither should be "being late". If you really want to be great, "being on time" is before your worktime and being there is a priority. Preparation is before your shift starts, not during shift.
"Request for Extension" should not be on Deth's to-do list. There is a reason why due dates are given. Make it a point to consider yourself overdue on tasks if your task is completed the day it is due. Completing them before will give you more time to focus on the quality of the completed task and make adjustments if needed.
"Good for tomorrow" should not be on Deth's to-do list. Why do it tomorrow if you can do it now? You don't have more time tomorrow than today so make proper use of the time you have today.
"Make people wait" should not be on Deth's to-do list. Respond! Confirm receipt! You don't like waiting and wondering if your message was received or read, why make others go through the same?
"Make corrections" should not be on Deth's to list. I am not saying that you can always do it right the first time but you can always review and double-check. There is no such thing as "Perfect" the first time but there is "perfecting it" by reviewing before submitting.
"I don't know how" should not be on Deth's to-do list. There is no "knowing it all" but there is "Let me see what I can find out and circle back to you". You have resources, use them. Trigger your mind to “know”.
"Unclear so assume" should not be on Deth's to-do list. You don't assume. You probe to get the right information. You want to save time and avoid mistakes? If you have doubts and nothing is as black and white as you want them? Ask! Never assume.
"Multitask" should not be on Deth's to-do list. Remember that multitasking is not a skill, it's a necessity. Do it only if necessary as you don't want to sacrifice the quality of a completed task. Focus on one task at a time.
"Unaware" should not be on Deth's to-do list. You should always be in the know! This way, you are always prepared when an opportunity presents itself. To be the person in the know is to be the person who can anticipate needs, the person who can be proactive and take the initiative.
"Efficient" should not be on Deth's to-do list. Don't get me wrong, being efficient is great but if you're "consistently" efficient, you become predictable. It can become your weakness as that is setting the expectation that you are yes, "efficient" which is great but what else? There has to be more, right? You have to be more than that to wow people around you. Find ways...
"Be idle" should not be on Deth's to-do list. We all need to take a breather, that is correct but too much of that is being "lazy". If you have idle time, learn new things about your company, about your co-worker's roles and tasks. No pressure as it's a task you gave yourself, not really an expectation that comes with your job. That is the best relaxation you can have. It's productive and it's adding value.
"Be told what to do" should not be on Deth's to-do list. Yes! You shouldn't like being told what to do. You shouldn't need to be reminded, you shouldn't need a task reminder. Own that position. Be that person who does things without being told what to do.
"Scared to be "B" should not be on Deth's to-do list. You are always "A", meaning the person doing the work but that's not all! Accept that you can be moved to be the one doing "B's" J-O-B! Take over and help out when needed. Be so ready to adapt as expectations change all the time! Take it as a challenge and perform!
"Remember and retain the steps" should not be on Deth's to-do list. Oh but I do retain, I make it a point to remember but on my list of not to do, I mean, don't rely on what you remember and retain no matter how great you are in recalling all the steps. Put them on paper or create a video so you can easily update as procedures and steps. That's the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and standard as the steps may be, they change when new rollouts or rules come up. This will also help others learn and be able to do the task should your company need a co-worker to take charge.
"Depend on others" should not be on Deth's to-do list. If it's there and needs to be done, don't wait on others if you can do it. Find your place, grow your role and be indispensable.
“Rely on luck” should not be on Deth’s to-do list. One author said, “You’re better off hopping than hoping”. I agree with him because to rely on “luck” is to hope that the opportunity to do something meaningful for the company will magically present itself. You don’t wait for opportunities, you create them. If you wait, you won’t have time to prepare yourself for when it does present itself.
Whenever I join an industry, I am put in management immediately. As an Industrial Engineering graduate and a person who has the tendency to be anti-social, positions like those that I handled are not ideal but I learned to adapt.
I am dealt, I deal, I excel. Why? I am too stubborn to fail!
About the writer: Bernadette Canero holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering. She is one of the founders and owners of Summit VA Solutions. Ms. Canero is the Vice President and Chief Operating officer of Summit VA Solutions and VirtualAss.com, Inc.