You know that you could do some things better, but it’s often hard to know where to start, and what will give the best bang for your buck. Documenting answers both those questions and more. Cindy Tonkin gives seven reasons to document what you do:
You do more than you think
Alex regularly got to the end of the day feeling like he’d achieved nothing. It seemed he lurched from one urgent important task to the next. He wrote down everything he did for just one day. He felt better when he saw that he had actually achieved something. That was before he even changed anything. List your tasks and feel better too.
Alex showed his list to Kym at reception. She showed him her hand written list of client contacts, which duplicated the spreadsheet he kept. And that triplicated the main client database which Kym also maintained. They dumped both extra tasks and each saved 20 minutes a day. List what you do, and work out what you can dump.
After documenting for two weeks, Alex realised that almost half of his time was spent doing things an administrator could do for him. He delegated some of it to the receptionist, and out-tasked some more. When you have two weeks’ worth of data, you can begin to see the patterns of what you can delegate.
Now he had time to focus. It became clear to Alex that what mattered was lead generating and client follow up. First he chose to delegate parts of his client follow-up. He sat down with post-it notes and documented the client follow up process with Kym. Between them they not only documented what Alex did, but they also added some steps designed to wow their clients. When you take the time to document a process, you can see more clearly where it can improve.
Alex then mapped his lead-generating process with the whole team. He did it live, with post-it notes and coloured markers onto a large piece of brown paper. He not only told them what he did, step by step, but he could also explain why he did it like that. The team added their own ideas.
With chips and some soft drink it was a team building activity and a team training. Afterwards people said they wished they’d video-d it to show new staff. Everyone had buy-in to the new lead generation process because it wasn’t just Alex’s any more. You could document a process with your team, and teach them how they can help you (or replace you!).
Alex let the team do things the way they had documented for a week or so. He says it was a little like when he taught his daughter to ride a bike: he needed to take his hands off and risk falling. This part of the process was tough on him but it had an excellent payoff. He began to take days off here and there for conferences and events. A little long weekend here and there. When you document and delegate, you can begin to release yourself from the responsibility of some things!
Take a holiday
When he knew that the team could look after his clients whenever he needed them to, Alex he took a nice relaxing holiday for four weeks in a row. He received no calls or emails from the office during that time. Alex chose to take his holiday in Thailand. Where will you go?