You may be wondering what a personal operating procedure has to do with your time management skills. Everyone has multi-step things they have to do sometimes, but not often enough to be able to do them automatically when it’s time to do those things again. Consequently, when it’s time to do one of those little mini-projects you waste a lot of time: figuring out what you need to do the project, trying to recall exactly how you did it last time, and trying to figure out how to fix what you screwed up because you didn’t really remember how to do it like you thought you did.

Creating a little personal operating procedure for these sometimes little or even big projects is a time management skill that will serve you well. The next time you have to do one of these projects get prepared to make the process easier the next time you or someone else will have to do it. Start off by making a list of all the things, documents, and tools you need to successfully complete the project. Make a note behind each item where you would actually find the item if you forget or if you needed to have someone else do it for you.

Your own little personal operating procedures enable you to accomplish the project correctly and consistently. Isn’t it frustrating when you have to do one of these little projects and you’re in a hurry and you mess something up because you thought you remembered what to do, but you didn’t, and now you have to invest a lot of time trying to figure out how to undo or work around the mess you’ve made? Using this time management skill you take responsibility for this and ensure it doesn’t happen to you again.

Start simple. One of the easiest ways to get started is to continue on with your list of materials needed to do the project, and add an ordered checklist for exactly how you do the project. Include every detail including the exact keystrokes for something involving a computer. Don’t you find one of the most frustrating things is when you can’t remember how to get to a certain feature you need to access with your computer to do what you need to do? Listing exact keystrokes or specifically where you find one of the physical things you need to do the project can save you from a lot of frustration. Now that you have a complete materials and how to list you want to make sure you properly store your list so you don’t waste time trying to find your personal operating procedure the next time you need it. At this point you can keep it as a simple handwritten checklist if it does the job for you, and in most cases it will. When your checklist is paper you may just want to have a ring binder and keep all your little procedures in there. If your personal operating procedure is in your computer create a folder for “personal operating procedures” and store all your procedures in there for easy use.

Ok, now using personal operating procedures you’ve improved your time management skills and made your life easier. But what happens when or if you ever need to have someone else do this for you? What happens if you ever want to delegate this project to someone else? You want to make sure the project is completed correctly, and you don’t want to make a big time investment teaching someone else how to do the project. So, the easiest thing to do is to add enough details to your personal operating procedure checklist so someone who has never completed the project before can read the procedure and do it themselves.

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