by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
Oops. If you are following my blog series closely, you'll know the intention was to post daily for 30 days. I've just realised that I closed my laptop lid before actually the post was published yesterday. *face palm*
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter in the slightest. I am being as faithful as possible to the task - these posts are not prepared in advance. I have potentially chosen the one of the most challenging months to undertake this challenge... and I know there is NO ideal time to undertake a new challenge. Now, once I have decided I'm going to do something, I tend to do it, or at least try until I know what needs to change. (This month I'm here there and everywhere, spending a lot of time travelling so not necessarily able to dedicate time to perfect blog posts - which is why they are done, not perfect!)
That is the beauty of trying something new in your 40s - I am not now weighed down with the burden of instant success. I've tried new things enough times to know that the first time I do something will not be my best attempt.
FAIL (first attempt in learning) was commonly used as a teacher, I now prefer Brene Brown's FFT (fucking first time) or TFT (terrible first time for a PG version). Giving myself permission for the first few attempts to be not my best has been a complete game-changer. Not only have I removed the weight of perfection from myself, I have also tried to remove it for others.
Royal Mail's Click and Drop system was one of my biggest challenges during 2020. Prior to setting up the business account, I was packing parcels, walking to the post office, queuing to have the parcels processed and then entering every tracking number into the website. There must be a better way! It was taking me hours every day. By the time all the post was done, I still had a full email inbox and then Zoom sessions I had committed to deliver.
Enter Click and Drop - seemingly the answer to all my issues as it allowed a number of systems to be automated. Apparently, a Royal Mail representative would usually go and support new account holders at their place of work, because setting up this system and configuring the label printer is not at all straightforward. We were in a pandemic though, so instead, I had about an hour of phone support. All the possible mistakes were made. All of them. My problems in setting up this system was further exacerbated by having a website builder that didn't integrate fully (at the time).
The technical ones: where I kept trying to upload the order information to Click and Drop, but one thing missing from the spreadsheet meant it would fail. Repeatedly. Where I forgot the printer was printing labels as 6x4 inches, not A4 size, and then testing and re-testing a label until it was right.
Once this was correct, it was still not easy. The volume of orders in lockdown was 4-5 times more than we deal with today. On a very busy day it was around 60 packages.
The human ones: Where I mis-labelled orders. I had to give myself permission to get this wrong. Frustrating and expensive for me to fix, but part of the learning.
Orders sent abroad took even longer to get right as the electronic customs declaration form didn't seem to correctly populate.
One day, it worked first time. I had pulled off the order information, transferred it to the spreadsheet and uploaded this to the Click and Drop portal, weighed all the packages, placed them in order, scanned the barcodes and bagged them and manifested the whole batch.
(Manifesting in Royal Mail speak is far from spiritual!) The mail was collected and it had taken me less time than the day before. Finally, I could write down a protocol and train someone else to help!
If first times are so challenging and we know this in our heart of hearts, why would we expect to put roller skates on and know what to do straight away?