When I was a kid, I loved riddles. I especially loved the gotcha riddles where if you didn’t pay attention to everything you were sure to get it wrong. One of my early favorites was,
“What weighs more? A pound of feathers or a pound of gold?”
Once I learned the devil was in the details, I would never answer a riddle until I heard it several times, always paying attention to every little detail. Another of my favorites was,
“You’re the driver of a bus. The bus goes west one mile before turning right. Then it travels two miles, drops off one person and picks up three. The bus turns right again and travels 4 miles, dropping off six and picking up five. The bus turns left and goes a half mile dropping off two and picking up nine. What is the bus driver’s name?”
Miss that first detail and you miss the whole riddle.
This Friday, every year, was a detail day. Tomorrow you will be as busy as any day of your year. You’ll likely have to fight to get a break just to eat some cold leftovers (unless you were smart enough to cater lunch for the team). You’ll feel overwhelmed at times. You’ll feel pulled in several directions at once. The last thing you need tomorrow is to have to take care of problems that can be nipped in the bud today.
The night before a big day we replaced all the cash register receipt tape with fresh, full rolls. We checked the ink levels on the registers and in all of the pens nearby (and made sure there were plenty of pens nearby). We restocked all the giftwrap paper we used to wrap gifts and had extra rolls on standby. We checked all the tape dispensers, refilled all the staplers, and made sure there were plenty of our yellow note pads at every register and phone.
Those all seem like simple things that should be done every night, but on Friday nights especially, the team is tired and wants to go home. Those few minutes spent, however, make a huge difference when there are lines at the register the next day and everyone in line has somewhere else to be, too.
I’m not a detail guy by nature. But I understood at an early age the importance of paying attention to the details and seeing how they would payoff in the long run.
Tomorrow is going to rock and roll. You’ll have your moments. And if you take a little time tonight to take care of some little things, those little things will remain little things and not blow up into big things tomorrow.
You might even get a moment for a quick bite.
PS Murphy’s Law states that the register will run out of receipt paper at the worst possible time. Doesn’t it always seem like it takes twice as long to change the paper when people are waiting in line staring at you than it does when no one is at the counter? That is stress making you feel that way. You have enough stress already. Eliminate that one before you even get started. You’ll have plenty of days in January to use those partial rolls of paper.