I learned something new today. Did you know poltergeist means “mischievous ghost”? According to Wikipedia (because everything on the internet is fact), the word poltergeist came from the German language word polten (“to make sound” and “to rumble”) and Geist (“ghost” or “spirit”), and the term itself translates as “noisy ghost”, “rumble ghost”, or a “loud spirit”. And, according to Joe Nickell, poltergeist incidents typically originate from “an individual who is motivated to cause mischief”.1
Yesterday morning, a very mischievous ghost was messing with my ability to get out of the house on time. First, he or she moved one of my earrings. I put my earrings on my dresser and when I went to put them on, only one earring was sitting there. I looked on the floor, under the dresser, under the bed, and then I dug through my husband’s socks and t-shirts drawers to see if I had knocked it in a drawer. I was ready to say the heck with it, and went to finish getting dressed. I walked back to put on my necklace, and there were both earrings! I cannot explain how that happened.
After getting my earrings on, I headed downstairs. I checked my purse for my car key before heading to the garage. No key. I checked my other purse…no key. I checked the first purse again. Then I checked my coat pockets, my jeans pockets, my washer and dryer, my nightstand, my kitchen, dining room, living room, then the purses again. I checked my car. Finally I called my husband and asked him to run out to his parking lot and check his car. No luck.
I had to order an Uber to get to work (my husband broke my spare key and hasn’t replaced it – sorry honey, for throwing you under the bus on the internet…love you!). My husband picked me up to bring me home after work. I walked straight to the purse I was using when I last drove my car, opened it, and the key was in there!!!
I’m sure that mischievous ghost was laughing his you-know-what off at my mad scramble earlier in the day!
My mischievous ghost’s antics made me correlate my actions yesterday morning to how it has been getting ready for an examiner to walk in the door. I was flinging drawers open, digging through socks (think file folders), picking up the bills on my dining room table (again, think file folders). You know how it is - you receive the examiner’s request list, and then you start scrambling to get everything pulled together, realize you don’t have everything he or she wants, review what you do have for accuracy, save everything to a secure portal, or God-forbid, print it all and pile into massive stacks.
I learned early on in my career that putting some exam preparation best practices in place paid off big with more time, less stress, and happier examiners (which means happier me!). The first item on this list, is the most critical:
- Keep an inventory list of items asked for in the past by examiners. Periodically review the list and make sure you have everything on the list (if it still applies) and that it is accurate and updated! If you review the list when you are doing annual policy reviews, adding new products and reviewing procedures, or making system changes and completing a system/process review, you won’t have to set aside a time just to review the inventory. Put this into your daily routine.
- If you have an office with a door, adhere to the clean desk policy, even if you can lock your office door. Putting things back in the proper place when you are finished with them makes it so much easier to find them later. And if you are a cube dweller, or better yet, already go paperless – keep your network folders organized and well labeled! (I really don’t mean to sound like your mother right now).
- When new regulations are being implemented, look at the updates to your regulators’ examination manuals and assess whether you are implementing controls to ensure compliance with the examiner’s expectations. Often we look at the exam manual when we know the examiner is on his or her way. That’s too late.
Here’s how I correlate the three tips above to my actions yesterday morning:
- Take a visual inventory. I’ve been told by a very wise person (my boss) that if you look directly at something when you put it somewhere, it won’t go missing (it’s likely you’ll remember exactly where you put it). It’s like taking a visual inventory.
- Put things where they belong. I switched purses over the weekend and didn’t move my key to the new purse. As such, I was looking in two purses. Perhaps if I’d moved the key to its rightful resting place I would have easily seen it yesterday.
- Make sure you are ready to head out the door in the morning before you go to bed.
The next time a mischievous ghost (or an examiner) comes calling, I’ll be ready!!
1Joe Nickell (3 July 2012). The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead. Prometheus Books. pp. 283–. ISBN 978-1-61614-586-6.