I screwed something up recently. It was one of those silly things which rolled on and got harder and harder to deal with until I just ran out of time.
There where different things I should have done, and had I done any of them I wouldn’t have had a problem. All were simple: chase someone about their approval; remind a different person to book something in advance; explain to someone in detail some requirements; and ask someone else to get back to me as soon as they knew something was amiss.
I didn’t do any of those and by the time I found out there was a problem there wasn’t a simple solution. I spend an afternoon and evening and the next morning running around, ringing, cajoling, being polite, leaving messages, being angry, attempting to call in favours and trying to throw money at the problem.
It didn’t work. I ended up not being able to deliver something I’d promised and disappointing (and creating much more work for) someone I look up to very much.
I now lose my weekend because all the running around took me away from my day job.
But there is a positive to come out of this. I’ve actually not screwed something up this badly for a while – it’s been years since I had to make a call where I said “that thing I promised you, I can’t deliver”. But the process did feel familiar. I spent a lot of my university (particularly my undergraduate and the earlier parts of my PhD) doing exactly that – running around on tight deadlines, getting things lashed together by force of personality and hope, getting many of them to work and getting frustrated when things failed.
As you might have guessed from this, this or this, I’ve very much invested in personal organisation in the last few years. Some habits I’ve adopted have been sea-changes that made a difference over night, and some have been ideas that took a year to show the benefit, but I do occasionally find myself wondering if it’s all worthwhile – if the effort I put I to making sure everything is running smoothly would be better spent throwing myself wholeheartedly into a project like I used to.
But honestly. It’s having to make the phone call that says “I screwed up, I broke my promise” and remembering that this is how you used to feel *all the time*. That’s what makes me realise that it’s worthwhile.