Now that you have a list of prioritized tasks and projects, it’s time to start with just ONE.
Breaking down each individual system: Write out the steps
The beauty of what we’re learning here is that once we get to this step (writing out the steps), it’s all about rinsing and repeating each time we want to create another system.
As I described in our post on prioritizing the tasks and projects you do in your business regularly, creating systems takes time and patience, and it starts with just ONE.
Writing out the individual steps
So here’s our next step: we’re going to take our ONE task or project we selected as our priority, and we’re going to write out each individual step we take when we do that task or project.
You might be thinking that it’d be a good idea to wait until the next time you do that task or project – that will make it much easier to write down each of the steps since you’ll be doing them anyway, right?
Please don’t wait.
I can assure you if you wait for the next time you do that task or project, chances are you’re going to be so wrapped up in actually doing it, you’re not going to have time to write out the steps.
You’ll likely think to yourself again, “I’ll write out the steps next time…”
Let’s break it down into 3 simple steps and then I’ll share how you can “double check” yourself to be sure you haven’t missed anything.
3 Steps to writing out the steps
1. Just start writing
Take out a sheet of paper and just start writing – what’s the very first step you take when you do the task or project you just selected?
Your list doesn’t HAVE to be 100% complete and totally finalized; the point here is that we want to get started with writing out what it is we do – the exact actions we take – every time we do this task or project.
2. Keep it handy
Once we have our list of steps started, THEN we can have it by our side the next time we do that task or project as a “second check”. If you’ve missed any steps, make sure and add them to your list.
3. Organize it
You’ve written out all the steps you take from memory, and you’ve also had that list by your side when you’re actually doing the task or project you selected.
Now, it’s time to organize your steps.
Are there inconsistencies with the order of the steps you recorded?
When you look at your list of steps, does the order actually make sense?
An example: Writing out the steps
For example’s sake, let’s say I chose my ONE task or project from my list, and it’s bookkeeping.
It’s a monthly task of mine, and I actually won’t be doing it again for a couple of weeks… but that’s ok; I’m not going to let that hold me back from starting to write out the steps I know from memory.
From memory, here are the steps I take when I go in and do my bookkeeping task:
- Login to Xero
- Check my accounts tab
- Go into each account and start to reconcile transactions
- For each account in Xero, I open up that bank account in a new tab and log in
- Research any transactions that don’t look right
- Add any new categories in Xero (if necessary)
- Upload statements for our business bank acct and our credit card for the month
- Reply to any questions Ryan has (he’s our bookkeeping manager over at Kahuna)
- Follow up with Ryan by the 4th to see if he’s published the monthly report
- Review every line item on the monthly report to make sure items have been categorized correctly
So these are each of the individual steps that come to mind right away and that I take every time I do my bookkeeping task.
Have I left any out?
Potentially, but right now I’m focused on just getting started – that’s the only way I’ll make any progress towards creating a system around this task.
If I’m going to be doing this task in the next few days, then I’ll have this list by my side so I can record any additional steps I might take, and also so that I can put my steps in the actual order they occur.
If I’m not going to be doing this task in the next few days, that’s ok – I’m going to continue on to the next step because I know that even if I’ve missed a few things, I’ll discover them at the end of the month when I do our bookkeeping again.
Now that you’ve chosen your ONE task or project and you’ve written out all the individual steps you take each time you do that task or project (and it’s organized), it’s time to get down and dirty.
Next, we’re going to dive into the best part: identifying efficiencies.