First, as I mentioned, don't panic. Take a second to evaluate your situation.
- What went wrong? This is important because if you know what happened, you can more easily prevent a re-occurrence.
- What's the damage? Is it an easy fix that you can do in five minutes? Go ahead, correct it, and move on. But my guess is, if it were that simple, you would have fixed it up without even bothering with that first step. So you've somehow misplaced hours of your work? Worse yet, maybe you've accidentally overwritten someone else's hours of work (I did that once... major oops!)? Don't Panic! No, seriously. What's done is done, so just take a deep breath and move on to the next step.
- How can you fix it? At the very least, correcting the error will probably require more time. If it means putting in extra working hours in order to get it done by its due date, then that's what you'll have to do. Maybe it's something you can't fix. It's good to know your limitations, so if that's the case, think of things you might be able to do to help whoever will have to clean-up the mess.
- Own up to your mistake. Unless it's a two-minute quick-fix, you're going to have to face your boss or whoever is affected by your mistake. Luckily for you, your co-workers and managers are also human. If you approach this step the correct way, they will probably understand and forgive you. Tell them what happened, apologize for your mistake, offer to stay later to make up for lost time, and tell them what you have learned from this experience so that it won't happen again.
- Don't let it happen again! This step is also pretty important. You can be forgiven once but probably not a second time for the same mistake. And it would be a good idea to pay extra attention to everything you do to prevent other types of mistakes from happening too.
But if they do happen...definitely don't panic. :)
Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer
firstname.lastname@example.org | @katie_hazard