It is a wise person who can learn as much from failure as success. I try my best to gain what I can from mistakes and botched attempts, but there are times when it takes me more than once to learn a lesson.
Until last week, it never crossed my mind that I could track these failures and learn from them in a more systematic approach. Then, I saw this unique file folder:
The actual paper folder is unnecessary, but the fundamental idea behind it is brilliant. After seeing it, I created a folder on my computer called “Never Again.” Then, inside that folder, I made a series of plain text documents: Restaurants, Books, Websites, Ideas, Hotels, Vacations, Wines, and Gifts. In these documents I recorded important notes to myself about mistakes I’ve made in the past.
An excerpt from my “Never Again: Gifts” file —
- Anything with nuts in it for Mary (allergic)
- Massage gift certificate for Katie
- Scented candles for anyone
- Lilies for Dana (allergic)
- Smoking items for David (quit September 2008)
The documents I put inside my “Never Again” file are on subjects that I instantly knew I had information to record. I’m sure that in a couple weeks I’ll have even more documents. Learning from mistakes helps improve productivity, saves time, and keeps us from spinning our wheels. Tracking our mistakes in an organized manner can help us to learn (probably best not to buy anyone a gift with nuts in it) and to free space in our mind to think of something else.
If you’re worried about someone gaining access to your “Never Again” file on your computer, make the file password protected. A simple password will keep your mistakes from becoming public information.
What “Never Again” documents would you create? Do you think this is a way that could help you learn from your mistakes and save you time in the future?
This post has been updated since its original publication in 2009.