What Does Being Sloppy Mean?

How often have you accused yourself of being “sloppy”? You forgot something, you missed something, little bits and pieces of things got lost, or things could have just looked better.

Similar to self-accusations of “laziness”, being sloppy is actually something we become when we call ourselves that. We spend a bit of self-esteem and get to get out of work. It can also be a protective measure. It protects us from the fear that we may be failures were we to try. The problem is that the impact on our selves and our environments makes things that much harder for ourselves.

Being sloppy is not a state of being. Thoroughness, perhaps its opposite, is a matter of practice.

Instead, sloppiness is about not addressing work, acknowledging its completeness or lack thereof. This blindspot often occurs at the closing of a session.

We may leave work incomplete because we were distracted by something more interesting. We may feel that our best work is done by shooting from the hip.

Addressing Sloppiness

To counter a tendency towards sloppiness, it is useful to focus on the closing phase of a session. We do not need to finish everything we start. But it is very useful to address all of its parts and our direct environments as we our work. It is about saving or bookmarking things.

With some routine or regular act in your life, whether that’s about playing video games or chores, consider paying conscious attention to how you end your next session. We can care for and save our work by asking:

  • Are things set aside so they are ready for next time?
  • Will the parts, the files, the ideas, the tools, or otherwise be out of my way until then?

The better we can save a session of work:

  • The better it is ready for us for next time,
  • The better it is are out of the way of our other interests,
  • The more thorough we are in our work, and
  • The better we often feel about our work and our selves.

Related: Zen & The Art of Work – Module 7 – Addressing Thoughts