One of the challenges of creating administrative procedures is that many people feel overwhelmed by the project. You already do a million things. How are you supposed to document everything for reference, as well? This feeling is why many people never start their procedures.
However, thinking of procedures as one big project isn’t the right approach.
If you want to make consistent progress on procedures documentation, you need to make it a habit, not a project. This is an important mindset when it comes to procedures development. When you look at this as a one-time project, you set yourselves up for failure.
Creating your procedures is only the first step. Using, reviewing and updating them needs to be an ongoing process. So, the trick is to find a way to integrate procedures documentation and process improvement into the natural flow of your daily work.
In the book How to Keep House While Drowning, KC Davis has a chapter on rhythms, not routines. I want to share a couple of things she says because they apply to procedures development, too.
“Dr. Leslie Cook, a brilliant psychologist who works with ADHD, once said to me, ‘Forget about creating a routine. You have to focus on finding your rhythm.’
With routines, you are either on track or not. With rhythm, you can skip a beat and still get back in the groove.”
Routines are a sequence of actions you follow regularly. They work great when everything runs according to plan, but they lack the flexibility you need in various situations throughout the day. Routines tend to fall apart if a single action in the sequence is missed or goes awry.
For example, you may allocate specific time periods throughout the day to check email or send out meeting agendas and reminders. Or you may have set days of the week where you do certain reports or perform routine tasks like expense reporting or payroll. But when a schedule disruption occurs, it can cause a chain reaction that creates chaos in multiple spots.
Rhythms, on the other hand, allow for more flexibility and adaptability based on current needs, priorities, and energy levels. The rhythm of the week dictates what you can fit in and where.
During a board meeting prep week, for instance, email may require more time and attention for last-minute submissions and changes. During the holidays, there may be less email and meetings and more time for planning and organizing. Some weeks you may create a new procedure every day. Other weeks you may only finish one.
When it comes to procedures, waiting until you need them is too late. At that point, it’s overwhelming and stressful. You may think you have enough time in your pre-vacation routine to create them, but we all know how that goes. The best time to document procedures is when you’re in the rhythm of doing the tasks you need to document. Even if you only have five minutes, just starting a procedure is better than nothing. Getting into the habit of documenting it while you’re in the flow of doing it allows you to work in rhythm.
Here are three quick tips from Davis’s book that can help you think differently about how to document your procedures.
- Create rituals – or habits – that you automatically do. We must learn to work with our brains instead of against them. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Download our free procedures development template, run 30 double-sided copies, three-hole punch the pages, and put them in a bright colored file folder within arm’s reach of where you sit. When you start a task you don’t have a procedure for, grab a pre-printed page and start jotting it down as you do it. This is a simple way to make procedures development quick and convenient throughout the day.
- Spend the first five minutes of your workday outlining a procedure you need to create while your computer boots up. Continue working on it throughout the day or week when you do that task.
- Report how many procedures you started to your accountability partner or your manager at the end of each week. This helps you keep procedures a priority.
- Figure out the best system for drafting your procedures. In this recent article, 7 Ways to Initiate Your Procedures When You’re Short on Time, I share several ways of overcoming task initiation. Try some of them! Make them a part of your daily/weekly rhythm. These strategies help remove some of the decision making overwhelm of where to start and what to do next, which helps you build momentum.
- Focus on momentum over perfection. KC Davis says, “Creating momentum is key because motivation builds motivation.” Make it your goal to create momentum that helps you start your procedures. As Davis says in her book, “The best way to do something is the way it gets done.” Your system doesn’t have to work for anyone but you when it comes to creating your procedures.
Good routines certainly offer predictability and structure. But rhythms provide flexibility and responsiveness, which are crucial in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment that admins navigate. Adopting a mindset that moves procedures development from a project to an ongoing habit with a rhythmic flow. This flow allows admins to develop their procedures more effectively as they support their executives, adapt to changing priorities, and ensure that their work is aligned with the most pressing needs.
Would you like some help creating your administrative procedures? Here are some options:
- Training on Demand Webinar: Unlocking Efficiency with AI and Innovative Procedures Documentation Tools
- Book: Become a Procedures Pro®
- 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.