Miskates – Why Their So Easy to Make

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in Business Writing | 0 comments

You’re shoveling baby carrots and peanut M&M’s into your face an hour and forty-three minutes after you were supposed to be relaxing at home. They are the first bit of semi-nutrition you’ve managed to ingest since 7:32AM. You’ve finally finished the brochure or press packet you’ve been crafting since 7:33AM that needs to go to the printer first thing tomorrow morning. Your back feels like you’ve been swinging kettlebells all day and your eyes will be seeing a little blinky rectangle for hours. For no reason at all, the left side of your neck and three of your toes are experiencing something that can only be described as a “burning clamminess.”

You should really give the project a good once-over before you leave, but what’s the point? You’ve been staring at it for damn near ten hours. It’s as good as it’s going to get. Maybe if you’d rushed through it in twenty minutes some mistakes would’ve been inevitable, but not on a project you’ve spent all day cultivating. You know it’s perfect. You hit send. It goes to your boss who has lots of other shit to do, so he just assumes everything is correct and with a simple click it goes to the printer.

The next day you come in refreshed and ready to go, proud of what you’ve managed to accomplish. You open the file with a satisfied smile. The very first thing you see is your big bold headline…

Bob’s Fitness- The Right Place For All Your Fitness Needs

But then you read it again and it clearly says…

Boob’s Fitness– The Right Palace For all You Fitness Nerds

Uh-oh. This isn’t good. Booby Bob is not going to be happy about this and neither are your clients who have now been called sweaty, palatial nerds. How could this have happened?

Turns out the answer is very, very simple. Your brain doesn’t read what’s on the page. Your brain reads what it expects to be on the page. It’s all about what the brain expects. Expect, expect, expect. And if your brain doesn’t except your typos, it’ll just glance over them like many people will do with the blatant one earlier in this sentence. Now you may have caught it because you have fresh eyes on the page, but what are your chances of catching that mistake when you’re tired and your brain knows what’s SUPPOSED to be there? Not good. *If you haven’t caught it yet, come back to this paragraph after reading the rest of the entry.

So what can you do? Here are three easy ways to combat the problem.

1) Always – ALWAYS give your project a final once-over before sending it out. And before you give it that once-over, take fifteen minutes away from it – minimum. Get your eyes off of that project and on to something else – preferably a turkey sandwich, or a fish tank, or Wheel of Fortune – anything that doesn’t require you to internalize lots of written information. Get your mind out of that space so your brain can see it fresh upon returning.

2) Have someone else read it over. This could be your boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, roommate, or just an editing buddy at work. They will find all the stuff you miss because your brain is on autopilot.

3) During your once-over, read it out loud to yourself. And when you read it out loud, make sure to slow down and hit every word. Read each word individually, otherwise you might realize that forgot a word that your brain randomly inserted because it was what you intended, even though that word didn’t actually make it to the page. (Like the second “you” that was supposed to be that sentence but wasn’t, and the “in” that didn’t find its way into these parentheses)

Basically, what you need to know is that no matter how smart you are, your brain is kind of a lazy jackass that’s trying to do as little work as possible. It takes shortcuts. Why? Because while you’re fretting over the best way to fit words together, it’s multitasking, doing silly little things like reminding you to breathe and subconsciously scanning the room for escaped convicts holding sharp objects. Studies that I don’t feel like citing have actually found that the smarter you are, the faster you process information and subsequently the more likely your brain is to make these types of mistakes. So in other words, your brain is shady. Don’t just explicitly trust it.

In my next business blog, I’m going to point out the common ways these types of mistakes manifest themselves so you’ll better know what to look for. But until then, tough, I’m going to let my brain just poofread rest of this sentence all on on it’s own Good job, buddy. Prefect execution.

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