How to Overcome Anxiety Over Mistakes at Work

Posted by
Anastasia in Self-Development on 10/14/20204 min read

screaming guy

Technical writers are the people behind orchestrating a flawless user experience alongside other teams. Where will a user go if they have questions? They could go to Support, of course, but technical documentation is step one. Users will most likely Google their query and naturally end up on your online documentation page.

This sounds like a lot of responsibility for tech writers to handle! They need to make sure that everything is documented, that no mistakes crept in, that all info is coherent and easy to find, and everything is up-to-date. Knowing that such a big chunk of user experience depends on your actions is enough to cause anxiety and stress levels to increase. Nobody wants to make mistakes, but when you are anxious, there’s a higher chance you do. This is a vicious circle. Hang on in there, here are some tips to help you fight off this nasty failure anxiety!

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Fear

Well, this doesn’t make sense, does it? Fear is the most frightening thing. How can one not be afraid of being afraid? Acknowledging your fear of making a mistake and normalizing it will help you be less scared. Don’t try pushing it to the back of your mind, it will lie dormant for a while, but as soon as the opportunity reveals itself, you’ll end up facing the suppressed fear all over again.

Focus on Solutions

Sometimes, when we realize we made a mistake, our mind goes hectic. The failure can really get under the skin and just linger as an afterthought for a while, making it difficult to focus on current tasks. To get rid of it, I advise you to focus on proactivity and seek the right solutions that could stop similar mistakes from appearing. When your work processes are set up right, and the tools you use match the tasks at hand, believe it or not, it is next to impossible to make a mistake. So, creating a failure-proof environment can help with this sort of anxiety a great deal! For a tech writer, it is often about finding the right help authoring tool. I’ll show you how using ClickHelp can do wonders for the cause:

  • What’s really scary for a tech writer? I’d say deleting something important is the ultimate fear. Here’s your solution - in ClickHelp, you can go to Version History and fix whatever was deleted. Just figure out what was changed and roll back to the previous version!
  • Another issue is making sure you’ve updated all the help topics. Like, you know, when a feature gets an update, and you need to make sure that you update it everywhere it is mentioned. The solution for this is Single-Sourcing. Use features like Variables and Content Snippets to make updates - you can fix a line of text in one place, and it will be updated automatically in the rest of your user manual.
  • Our memory makes us prone to mistakes - you can’t remember everything! This means you need a reliable solution to keep track of everything you need to do. Hm... what would the solution be? Not surprisingly, a To-Do List. These things are extremely useful - they can be part of the review workflow and, also, you can use them as your personal checklist. This is a very convenient way to understand what you still need to do in each topic you are working on.

two techwriters talking

Appreciate Your Skills and Achievements

Fear of failure can be fueled by the infamous imposter syndrome. This syndrome makes you think you are not qualified for your role and tasks set. This irrational thought can really mess up your attitude. Instead of focusing on your mistakes, take the time to appreciate your value as a technical writer and understand that you are actually up for this task!

Learn from Mistakes

Reprogram yourself to perceive mistakes as direct indicators of improvement areas instead of them forcing you to beat yourself up. Even if you make a mistake, this is not the end of the world. On the contrary - the path to self-improvement will be lit up, and you can become a better tech comm specialist thanks to this mishap.

Get Enough Rest

Anxiety over failure can kick in due to a lack of proper rest. This can be a signal that it is time for you to start taking rest seriously. Besides, we really tend to make more mistakes when we are tired. Don’t let the thoughts of not being productive enough get the better of you. From having regular short breaks to getting enough sleep - each aspect of keeping yourself from overworking is important. If you go through with paying more attention to your mind and body and allowing it plenty of rest, you will feel more energized and confident altogether!

cuppa and laptop

Conclusion

Feeling anxious over possible mistakes can be a nightmare. And, since a lot in a company depends on the quality of user manuals, you might feel overburdened by this. However, following the tips mentioned in this article can help you feel much more confident doing your day-to-day tasks and figure out the right tools to make yourself resistant to the fear of failure.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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