7 Ways to Initiate Your Procedures When You’re Short on Time

Jan 30, 2024 | Administrative Professionals, Procedures, Productivity

The top complaint (or excuse) I hear for not creating administrative procedures is a lack of time.

Sometimes that reason is coupled with distractions, interruptions, or a lack of motivation to start the project. And while I understand how this can happen, you have to overcome these snags if you want to be successful.

During our recent Procedures Accelerator, I created a new exercise to help participants see how fast they could create a procedure. The participants picked one procedure from their list. I set a timer for five minutes. The goal was to do a brain dump or general outline of everything to include in this single procedure.

When the five minutes were up, everyone shared what they accomplished. Several participants had indeed created a complete procedure. Several others completed solid outlines. The collective response was, “Wow, look at what I can accomplish in just five minutes!”

After we completed three five-minute power rounds, we set the timer for an additional 15 minutes. Participants could continue working on a procedure they drafted, or start a new one. It was incredible how much everyone accomplished in just 15 minutes with full focus on nothing but the next procedure.

Think about how many five-minute segments you have throughout your day that you could use to draft a procedure outline. How many procedures could you create in a week? What if you started each day with a 15-minute full focus on your next procedure? You could accelerate the procedures development process in ways you never imagined possible!

What I’ve learned about procedures development is that most of us aren’t lacking the motivation. We know we need them. We want the safety net they provide personally and professionally. But we need help with task initiation.

In her book How to Keep House While Drowning, author KC Davis shares seven simple ways you can help yourself initiate a difficult project or task:

  1. Creating movement momentum with music.
  2. Permission to start.
  3. Moving towards.
  4. Built-in wait times.
  5. Bundling.
  6. Body doubling.
  7. Timed cleaning.

Davis’s book applies these strategies to “care tasks” (her term for household chores) in her book. However, they can also apply to initiating your procedures development.

  1. Listen to music that makes you happy and energizes you while you work on your procedures. Sometimes I need focus music. Sometimes I need something with words and a good beat. My YouTube playlist includes both, and I can quickly get into a work zone with background music supporting the process. Davis says that “neurons that fire together wire together” so play music your brain associates with happiness and use it to your advantage as you get started.
  2. Give yourself permission to start a procedure. Notice I didn’t say finish. If you can finish, great. But you have to start first. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly worded or beautifully formatted procedure in the first draft. You simply need to start the process of completing the task at hand. If you can do more, do it. If you can’t, at least you started, and that’s what matters. Set a five-minute timer on your phone and dive in.
  3. Move towards making progress. Ask yourself, “How can I move towards creating (or finishing) the next procedure?” For me, I leave it out on my desk at night so it’s the first thing I see when I sit down the next morning. I also create an appointment on my calendar so it’s the first commitment I see when I look at my schedule for the day. These two things help me make progress on my next procedure.
  4. Leverage built-in wait times. One way you can reclaim some of those five- or 10-minute blocks of time throughout your day is to pay more attention to the time you spend waiting. When I’m waiting for a training video to upload, I don’t like doing other tasks on my computer to slow it down. So, this is a good time for me to jot down notes about a procedure I want to update. When you are stuck on hold waiting for tech support, grab a procedures template and start writing your next procedure.
  5. Bundle tasks with procedures development to make them more enjoyable. For example, when I create a task list for a new project, I typically include a task for procedures documentation. I use the project task list as a starting point for outlining the forms, templates, checklists, and procedures I need to complete the project. And because I can check off an item on my task list when this is complete, it’s motivating to finish it, too.
  6. I always say procedures are more fun with friends! Even if you don’t work at the same company, having a “binder buddy” to bounce ideas off of and keep you accountable can make a tremendous difference in helping you make progress on your procedures. If you do work with a team that is doing this together, you can divide and conquer this project even faster.
  7. Set a timer. Yes, I’m serious. Most of us have timers on our smart phones. I have a digital timer on my desk that I use daily. Sometimes I work to “beat the clock”. Other times I use it to not exceed the set number of minutes I have available. Either way, it works! Most of the time, we exaggerate in our minds the amount of time something will take. Setting a timer helps you become more time aware for future planning, too!

We’re all busy. But you’re not doing yourself any favors by using your workload as an excuse to not create the procedures that will make that same workload easier.

When you look at creating your administrative procedures as a series of small steps instead of a single, insurmountable project, it’s a lot easier to find those tiny chunks of time that will help you get closer to the eventual finish line!


Need help getting your procedures created?

  1. Webinar: Getting Started With Procedures Development
  2. Book: Become a Procedures Pro®
  3. Immediate access to all our current training plus future training for one low monthly or quarterly subscription fee with an AdminPro Training® VIP Pass

All these training products come with access to our exclusive weekly Procedures Power Hours through March 2024. Power Hours are your chance to connect with me and my team of experts to get answers to your questions, troubleshoot any problems, and receive support and accountability as you create your administrative procedures.


We Have Even More Procedures Development Resources For You Here!

© 2024 Julie Perrine International, LLC


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Julie Perrine is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures, and Prove Your Skills! With a Powerful Professional Portfolio.

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