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Productivity / Processes

Why you should document procedures

Mastering the art of performing a new business process, such as using a new software program, is something we can be proud of. It is also something we should write down. Here I outline several reasons why it is beneficial to document procedures.

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Sam Leader previously discussed how important it is to document procedures  and I couldn’t agree more. When we are new to a process, we often spend a fair amount of our time and energy trying to get it done, and eventually we get it to work.

But what often happens next is that we don’t need to perform that function again for a month or so and then discover we’ve totally forgotten how to do it. We’re back at square one, having to learn it all again.

If you ever find yourself asking ‘how do I do this again?’ then I’m talking to you!

How about taking a smarter approach? What if you could bottle up your time and energy and re-use it later? Well, you can.

On the one hand, you could learn how to perform the task – and when I say learn I mean not only understanding what you’re doing, but memorising and testing yourself to confirm that you’ve got it. And learning also means shifting it into your long-term memory which I explained in my previous article on techniques to improve your memory.

"There’s no more banging your head against the wall because your memory or lack of practice has let you down."

But on the other hand, it may not be necessary to learn it. Instead, why not write down each and every step that you take as you perform it? It’s a tiny, insignificant cost in terms of your time and energy to document procedures, but the pay off is huge.

Want more articles like this? Check out the processes section.

Just think, next time you perform the task, you pull out your step-by-step instructions. You read step one and do it with ease. You read step two, then step three and enjoy how the process just keeps you moving, almost effortlessly, towards your outcome.

There’s no more banging your head against the wall because your memory or lack of practice has let you down. You’ve got a system that keeps you moving at all times. I’ve done this for years. It means I get my work done fast and I can do it almost anytime, no matter how I’m feeling.

Following written instructions – baby steps – is so easy and very satisfying when you achieve your outcome!

And of course, let’s not overlook another huge benefit: if you document procedures for even apparently simple tasks, you’re boxing up your business. You’re leaving a trail behind you – an instruction manual – that anyone else can follow in your absence or you can use for training someone to help you. And of course if one day you want to franchise your business, you’re in a stronger position to help others to duplicate your actions and your approach.

There are a lot of benefits to documenting your actions. By doing so you’ll also enhance your learning of the process or series of actions that you’re documenting.

Do you have some other ideas of benefits that you’ll gain if you document procedures? I’d love to hear them.

Mark Moore

is the Director of Excelerated Performance International. He helps people to close the skills and knowledge gaps that they face, much faster, and manage themselves more effectively in order to achieve their business goals.

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