It was about a year ago now that I first started learning about systems and processes. My immediate thought was, “that’s not for me, that’s for real businesses… companies, places with tons of employees and training to handle”.
Well, let me back track a little bit.
I want to make sure you know what I’m talking about when I say, “systems and processes”. A system or a process is a set of tasks, checklists, and information needed to complete a certain item of work. Processes are setup for tasks that are completed on a regular basis. They’re a way of almost automating the task so it flows better, takes less time, requires less thought, and has no extraneous steps on the way to completion.
Let me give you an example.
Every time I release a pattern, certain things need to happen. Those things are numerous… when I’m doing them it feels like the list never ends! And this creates a few problems. First of all, it would be very easy for me to forget a step since there are so many; and it’s slower for me to have to remember and then act on all the steps. Sometimes, I do things out of order and that makes the whole process less efficient.
So when I started reading about creating systems and processes for tasks that are frequently repeated, my interest was piqued. As I dove deeper, I realized that this could solve all the issues I was having with repeating tasks.
So how do you know if you have tasks that can be systematized?
Try this: take a piece of paper and let it follow you around your business, writing down everything you do. After a few days, (or maybe a week) you should have a good idea of some tasks that you can either automate, eliminate, or systematize.
To create a system for a task is quite simple.
First, the next time you actually do the task, keep a notepad with you. Write down every step involved in completing the task. Once you have a list of steps, you can do a couple of things.
You’ll want to look over the steps and make sure none are extraneous. One of the big goals of systemizing is creating more efficiency: freeing up your time to work on more important things! Once you’ve cut any fat, you’ll want to look at the order of the tasks. Batching like tasks can be a big time-saver, so if at all possible, put similar tasks next to each other.
Once you have a first draft of the steps required to complete your task, you’ll want to record it in a way that allows the checklist to be repeated. I recommend Process Street if you’d rather a digital solution. If you’d like an analog solution, print out your checklist and put it in a page protector – then you can use a dry erase marker to check things off and then wipe it clean for next time!
Now, the first draft is just the beginning.
The first few times you use your new process, I recommend you keep an eye out for anything that can be improved, simplified, reordered, or eliminated entirely. This is part of what makes processes effective… the continual (at least in the beginning) refinement of the way you complete a task.
That is the magic that makes processes exciting: the ability to not only easily repeat a task, but to know that it is efficient and nothing is falling through the cracks. It also makes it easy for you to hand off a task if you ever hire a VA or employee – the training process for a new hire is dramatically simplified because all their tasks are already documented!