Detail is the devil. That’s my big problem in life. I’m fundamentally clumsy and prone to errors, and don’t have much of an eye for details. I tend to make a lot of silly mistakes. So whenever I’ve to do some task that requires precision, it requires me to put in way too much energy, so that I don’t commit any mistakes. This is why I have a problem with “routine” tasks. Routine tasks being routine, you are expected to complete them with one hundred per cent accuracy. Ninety five percent won’t do. That transformation from ninety five percent to hundred, though, takes up a lot of energy, and I tend to get stressed out.

Essentially, for a routine task to be done with one hundred percent accuracy, the mental energy I spend is far more than what the average person does. This means that if I do even a small bunch of routine tasks, all my mental energy is exhausted and I have nothing in store for anything else I’ve to do. This is the reason I’ve had an indifferent corporate career so far. Essentially, I face a competitive disadvantage in performing routine tasks.

This is something most people don’t appreciate. Most people assume that it doesn’t take much effort to perform routine tasks, and if you don’t do them well, you’re a good for nothing. And I must admit I’ve also not played to my strengths so far, routinely getting into situations where I’ve to show “detail” and “one hundred percent accuracy”, and not saving my energy for things I’m actually good at. Detail has been the devil.

PS: The motivation for this post was some small form I’d to fill (by hand). The space was limited and I knew I’d to write carefully without any mistakes, and that drove me completely  nuts!

2 thoughts on “Detail”

  1. As someone with similar strengths and weaknesses, I can empathise with you. I too regard myself as a math/analytical wizard and am quite clumsy when it comes to routine tasks. And this has hurt my corporate career through the years. I remember in my first job, my first design doc was being reviewed. A very senior project manager sitting there and pointing out spelling/formatting mistakes in my doc. With every mistake he pointed out, my peers were getting tensed and concerned for me. And I was like, “Big deal. He must be an idiot to be wasting his time pointing out such mistakes. You didn’t hire me for my MS Word skills, did you?”. And this was in a company which prided itself for its 6-sigma quality (big deal those days) and took metrics like defects found etc very seriously. So being accurate in routine tasks was a major requirement there. I left after 2 years. I have stumbled along somehow, sometimes excelling, sometimes scraping through, but it hasn’t been easy. And if you think being on your own is better, think again (I have tried that too). Customers are even more demanding when it comes to attention to detail than your bosses. I think ideal job for people like us is in academics. A univ prof or something where it is *expected* that you will be clumsy, dreamy, thinking of big picture and not worrying yourself about trivia.

  2. You could delegate this routine task, and leave your mind free for the big picture thinking. I don’t agree with the general corporate thinking that you need to be competent in the small details to come up with big ideas. I believe, more often than not, getting too detail-oriented gets in the way of a good solution to a problem you are trying to tackle.

    I used to get into the details of the work I used to do / get other people to do, but recently I figured out, I should only spend my time doing things that only I can do, and get others to do the rest. Works well for me now, but of course, you need to kick a few asses sometimes so that they don’t mess up and you don’t have to check their work 🙂

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