What I Learned From My Data Entry Job

I want to take you back in time for a bit...


Imagine a little Mags, starting her first ever job as a Data Entry Officer. Sounds like an exciting job right?


Well actually, it WAS kind of nice, and admittedly I learned quite a bit from my binary days!


I was in fact a questionnaire encoder. What that meant is that I received a large pile of filled out questionnaires (this was back in the day when those were done with pen and paper).
I would then proceed to "translate" the answers of these into a numeric code (it was mostly

0s and 1s, but not entirely binary). That code was what the maths whizz used to analyse the data.


Every questionnaire was given an ID number, that corresponded with its line in the code. The whole stack was encoded twice, in separate files. My trusted computer would then proceed to compare the two files, and highlight any discrepancies between the two. It was then a question of finding the line number, pulling the corresponding questionnaire, finding the right page and checking the correct coding. Slowly but surely the two files would become exactly identical.

How Did This Prepare Me?

I strongly believe that everything you do teaches you something. Everything is experience, and you can implement lessons across the board. There are actually a few things that I learned in this job, that still come in handy now.

An Eye for Detail

I would say this goes without saying, but this was very detailed work. Of course the computer check would pick up any mistakes you made (unless you made the exact same one twice I guess). Having to find specific questionnaires from the stack, and looking for the right answer was a pain though. So I learned that, when you think you made a mistake, it often pays off to check right then and there. That level of detailed work, really did give me a bit of an education. 


It also meant that at some point I was so good at it, that they happily paid me twice what they would anyone else, because I did the work in about a third of the time. 

Working Under My Own Motivation

I started this job when I was 15 and kept it until I was 21. It was only a couple of months a year, but it was steep for those weeks. It was also work that I did from the comfort of my own home (or rather my own room). Working from what was essentially a home office from a young age has really taught me to keep myself motivated. Doing data entry is not the most innately satisfying job in the world, so it takes discipline to keep yourself going.

Typing to the Beat

One of the random things that I started doing, both to stay motivated and to keep my brain (and that eye for detail) engaged, was to type to the beat of my music. 

I don't actually do this these days, because I try not to have to enter large amounts of numeric code, but what it did teach me was to think outside the box for strategies that help ME do the job at hand. I know how my brain is wired, and so I know how to come up with tricks to make me work more efficiently.

What jobs did you have, and how did they prepare you for what you do now? 

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