Why Does It Feel Like You Only Get Copier Paper Jams When You’re in a Hurry?

An image of a stressed individual in a hurry

You’ve got a pile of documents, you’re racing against the clock, and just as you hit ‘print’, the dreaded ‘paper jam’ alert flashes on the multifunction copier. Why does it seem like copiers have a sixth sense about when we’re most pressed for time? And, you only ever experience paper jams when you’re in a hurry! 


Well, we’ve got a theory, and it’s backed by both facts and stories. Let’s get to the bottom of this!


Rushing Leads to Mistakes: It’s Not Just You, It’s Science


Ever notice how you’re more prone to tripping when you’re late for a bus? Or perhaps you’ve spilt coffee when you’re dashing out the door for a meeting? Hurrying tends to make us overlook important details. According to Dell, “When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to make mistakes that can lead to printer jams.” Incorrect paper loading and overloading are just a couple of those mistakes. 


More Science: This time? Psychology


Our perceptions of events, especially during stressful situations, can be influenced by several psychological phenomena. Here are some that might explain why it feels like paper jams always occur at the worst possible times:


  1. Negativity Bias: This is our tendency to remember and give more importance to negative events than positive or neutral ones. So, even if the copier works perfectly nine times out of ten, that one time it jams when you’re in a hurry will stand out in your memory.


  1. Confirmation Bias: Once you’ve formed a belief – in this case, that the copier jams when you’re rushed – you’re more likely to notice and remember instances that confirm this belief and ignore those that contradict it.


  1. Availability Heuristic: This refers to our tendency to estimate the frequency or importance of an event based on how easily examples of it come to mind. If you recently dealt with a stressful paper jam when you were in a hurry, you might overestimate how often such jams happen.


  1. Temporal Discounting: We tend to prioritise immediate outcomes over future ones. If you’re in a hurry and need the copier to work right now, any malfunction will feel particularly frustrating and significant, whereas a jam during a less pressing time might not seem as big of a deal.


  1. Stress Amplification: When we’re already stressed, any additional inconvenience or problem can feel magnified. So, a paper jam on a relaxed day might be a minor annoyance, but the same jam when you’re under pressure can feel like a major catastrophe.


  1. Selective Perception: When we’re in a heightened state of emotion or stress, we tend to selectively focus on certain aspects of our environment that align with our current state. If you’re feeling rushed, you might be more attuned to things going wrong, like a paper jam.


Understanding these psychological phenomena can provide some solace. It’s not that the universe is conspiring against you; it’s just that our brains have certain biases that can skew our perceptions of events. 


So, next time the copier jams when you’re in a hurry, take a deep breath and remember: it’s probably not personal. It’s just psychology at play. But what if our brain isn’t playing tricks on us?


Getting it Right: Tips to Keep the Copier Humming


Prevention is better than cure, right? So, before you get caught in another copier debacle, here are some solid, doable tips to keep those jams at bay:


  1. Pace Yourself. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady often wins the race. A few seconds spent ensuring the paper is loaded correctly can save you minutes (or even hours) of hassle later on.
  2. Know Your Limits. Just as you wouldn’t stuff your suitcase to bursting point, don’t overload your copier. Check that manual, see how much it can handle, and stick to it.
  3. Choose Wisely. Not all paper is created equal. Using the recommended type for your machine can make all the difference.
  4. Cleanliness is Next to Jam-lessness. A bit of dust might seem harmless, but over time, it can be a copier’s worst enemy. Regular cleaning keeps those rollers turning smoothly.
  5. Handle with Care. If you do face a jam (hey, it happens to the best of us), be gentle. Yanking paper out can harm your machine. Instead, take a breath, and carefully follow the steps to clear it.


Still Facing Issues? Maybe It’s Not You.


Now, if you’ve been religiously following these tips and that pesky jam still rears its head, it might be the machine’s fault, not yours. Every appliance has a lifespan, and perhaps your copier is hinting at a well-deserved retirement. In that case, it’s time to ring up your supplier. And if they are as responsive and helpful as your friends at Evolve Document Solutions, you’ll be back on track in a jiffy!


But before we wrap this up, take a moment to reflect. Next time you’re rushing to the copier, remember the tales and tips shared here. Slow down just a touch, double-check that paper tray, and give yourself the best shot at a jam-free day. 


Because really, who needs the added stress?