Double Check in Reverse - Find what would be overlooked

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Double Check in Reverse

For about a quarter of this century I worked for a large brokerage house, the one with the pet bull; btw: its name is Native Texan (not commonly known). I installed and maintained large networks. Seriously large amounts of money transversed those networks. One key component was the Routing Table which decided what transactions go where. It had to be perfect.

But, to look at it was, in a word dull. Actually mind numbing; scores of very similar entries with slight differences. But each was essential to proper routing. It was there I learned the secret to proper checking of my maintenance work. I learned to read, and double check my work, backwards. Numbers were verified from right to left, never left to right.

I apply the same concept to reviewing a loose ack. I start from the bottom right of the form and work my way left to the margin. Then up a line and repeat the procedure. Why? Your eyes may be different, but mine tend to want to glide along from left to right, the way you are now reading this blog entry. But when proofreads, I always go in reverse.

Reverse processing slows you down, it’s more difficult for the eye to find the next field to be examined. You have to “jump over” the item you just inspected, a built in extra look. As your eye moves right to left, then up from the bottom; you are forced to go much slower. There is no chance for the smooth “scan” as in normal reading. You force yourself to find details that a normal read might miss. Yes, it’s tedious and takes more time. Speaking of time….

An additional technique is to look at your watch when you start to proofread. After you have used this technique a few times you will have a feel for how long it should take to do a very thorough proofreading. Make a mental note of your start time. When you are done, determine how many minutes you spent proofreading. If you estimated ten minutes and finished in four; chances are that you did a poor job, and glossed over some aspects of the work. As a rule of thumb it takes about 25% of the time to verify (because you are not writing) compared to making the actual entries on the pages.

Initially you will find this procedure strange, awkward and uncomfortable. Remember when you were learning to drive a standard transmission car? Brake, shifter, clutch, gas petal, steering wheel, all had to be operated almost concurrently and smoothly. Stick with it – it will become second nature and the skills mastered will serve you well as you check items other than notary work.

A true verification master takes the concept one step further. They verify the package from back to front! It actually makes a lot of sense. For example: you first see the notarization on the last page; so you know the names, subsequently you look for the initials of the persons notarized. A world class “checker” will operate in both forward and reverse; for both the details and the entire package!

It’s strange and new to process in reverse. Don’t give up too quickly. Force yourself after your normal checking to try finding an “oops” using the reverse technique. Scan each line left to right looking for that middle of the page, almost hidden initial block. If it’s there reverse will find it!


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Kenneth Edelstein

The only A+ Accredited BBB NYC Notary
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