There are a lot of very important things that I will share with you in this book, but what I am about to share with you is one of the most important clerical lessons that I have learned.
Document everything. Save twice. Get it in writing.
I am obsessed with being organized so coming into my career, I thought I had this one in the bag. Man… was I wrong.
When it comes to business, a paper trail is everything. I can’t tell you how many times I fell on someone else’s sword because of a mistake or worse, I was fighting a battle for someone else and then couldn’t prove it was their battle.
Here are the top times that documentation is key:
- Timelines and Due Dates
- Professional Feedback / Constructive Criticism / Major Accomplishments
- Complications / Issues / Mistakes
- Vacation Time / Requests Off
- Behavior that seems “Sketchy”
- I’m going to clue you in on something that you might not believe. When someone is acting “sketchy” it’s usually because they are doing something they shouldn’t be. Don’t get caught up in someone else’s lie. When I see something happening that doesn’t feel right I either loop in my supervisor or HR or if something just feels off, I make sure I document it in writing to someone above me that may have a better sense of what is going on. There have been so many times in my career where I thought that ignoring something would be enough to keep me out of someone else’s crazy antics, but in the end, because I witnessed the problem developing I typically got pulled into someone’s office to chat about the problem and ended up wasting more of my time than if I had just elevated the issue to begin with. I am by no means saying that you need to “tattletale” that is juvenile and not the right approach. What I am saying is that if someone is acting in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable it’s always a good idea to casually mention it to someone else who can address the issue in a professional way.
- Files or Corporate Assets
- Audits happen all the time. People quit. Servers crash. If you are reading this sentence and don’t make a habit out of saving everything you touch to some sort of back-up system, then when you lose all your files, I will feel no remorse. I save everything in three places. In my email (I never delete anything), on my desktop and on the company’s server. I feel like this system is foolproof (I’m sure now that I put that in writing the cosmos are going to try to find a way to delete all my files). Plan for the worst. I had a co-worker that saved everything he touched on his desktop. One day on his way into work, he crashed his motorcycle and his work computer went flying. He lost everything (and to top it off had to pay to replace his work computer). It happens all the time. Accidents happened every day. People change positions and you have to do dig up files. Don’t be the person that makes the next person’s job a living hell because you never saved anything where it belonged.