I am a big believer in learning from our mistakes. Indeed, I think the most profound learning experiences come from reflecting about mistakes. (I used to tell my staff, "It's OK to make a mistake; just don't make it twice!")
What constitutes a "silly" mistake? Things that waste your time or money, and don't add to your personal effectiveness as a learning experience. An example would be leaving your leftover to-go box at a restaurant -- no big deal, but you have to go back for it (time) or leave the food to be thrown away (money). Another is misplacing something (your keys, anyone?) or forgetting your phone.
So what is a person to do? There is a concept central to lean practices, stemming from the Toyota Production System. It is called poka-yoke, i.e., mistake-proofing in Japanese, the idea of creating fail-safes to prevent problems before they occur -- or to mitigate the issue when something DOES go wrong . A poka-yoke is typically a physical barrier or device or some kind of programmed process. It is applied extensively on an industrial scale, such as requiring a machine operator's hands to be on two different controls to start or run a device to prevent injury. Or on a computer system, you have probably experienced, data "masking," where you receive an error message if you have typed something incorrectly or in the wrong format.
As with many business ideas, a poka-yoke can be used on a personal level. You have experienced many fail-safes, to be sure: the overflow drain in your bathtub, the need to have your foot on the brake to start your car, the diesel nozzle not fitting into your gas tank opening (beyond the handle being green).
Being a bit absent-minded (which I prefer to think of as hyper-focused -- just on other things!), I have a few easy ones that I rely on regularly:
Mistakes are inevitable -- but make yours worthwhile, not silly.
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