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In today’s episode, we’re talking about three standard operating procedures (SOPs) for your business and for your life.
Why Should You Create A Standard Operating Procedure?
There are two important reasons.
It Saves Time
When you do certain tasks on a recurring basis, you’re going to be saving a lot of time because you have the steps written down for reference.
It Saves Calories!
It takes a certain amount of calories, or energy, to make a decision. If you do it frequently enough, by the end of the day, you’ll suffer from what’s known as decision fatigue. But if you have operating procedures for daily activities, you have to make fewer decisions and you’ll be able to get more done.
Scaling Your Business Becomes Easier
SOPs and checklists make it much easier to scale your business. You use them to motivate yourself. If you do step one, chances are you’ll do step two, three, four, five and six. It helps you get started. They really help you scale your business, do things faster, and get more done in a day.
How Do You Create an SOP or Checklist?
Each time you do a new task or create a new system, write down the steps. I do this on a piece of paper and stack it on my desk. Later, I’ll transcribe those SOPs into a Google doc folder with the prefix SOP.
Prefixing your SOPs this way makes them is searchable. If you want a list of all your SOPs, you can search ‘SOP’ in your Google drive. I keep a separate Google sheet that lists all the standard operating procedures and breaks them down into categories, such as how to post content to the website or how to do our news reporting system for DustSafetyScience.
Now let’s talk about three SOPs I use in my life and in my business.
1. Monday Planning Session
I do a planning session each week to figure out what tasks we need to get done and how they fit in with my overall business strategy.
At the top of this SOP is a section called ‘What is the point?’ I got this idea from James Schramko at SuperFastBusiness. You are always asking “Why am I doing this? What is the point of doing this individual thing?”
There are three points for my Monday planning session.
- OODA: OODA is an American military acronym for observe, orient, decide, act. They use this strategy in fighter planes. Observe your surroundings, orient yourself to them, decide what to do next, and then act. When I start my Monday planning session, I observe what we have going on, orient myself to it, decide on our next steps. and take action so I can get some things done.
- Align: I align myself and my team so that we’re ready for an exciting and productive week ahead.
- Develop and implement innovations: I think about what I am doing now or what we are doing now as a team. How does everything fit in with the business and what are the things that we can do differently? What are some new strategies, new tactics, new products, and other fundamental innovations that can change the business today?
The process has five steps.
- Vision/train track review: Again, I got this analogy from James Schramko at SuperFastBusiness, I take time to think, “What is my vision? Where am I heading? What do I want to be in my life? How do I want the business to support that? Where are we going in the next three years? Where are we going next quarter? Where are we going this week?” Once you have that destination in mind, you decide how to get there.
- Review my personal Trello board and the team Trello boards: We look at all the to-do tasks for the week and say, “Is this fitting in with the vision and train track review?”
- Review and record analytics for the business and any critical business projects: How did we do? If there are any new tracks that we’ve put in place, how did they perform based on what we thought they’d do? Are we making sales on products that we have going? I look at these analytics and say, “Where are we in the business? Where do we need to go?”
- Send a team newsletter: This newsletter lets everyone know where the business is at this week. It also highlights wins and accomplishments.
- Content planning for the week: I create outlines for at least two podcast episodes, one for GradBlogger and one for DustSafetyScience, The rest of the content we create is through our content machines for the most part, unless I’m writing any special articles for guest posts or special articles for the website.
2. Hiring Someone for a One-Time Job
If you’re hiring someone for a temporary job, such as a photographer for a photoshoot, always do a Skype or Zoom call with the person before you hire them. If they’re not willing to do that, they’re hard to get a hold of, or you don’t connect with them when you’re talking to them, it’s a great filter.
After some introductory chit-chat, advise them that you’re talking to a couple of people and want to finalize the price and process. This gives you breathing time. Ask if there is anything that could unexpectedly change the price. When closing, tell them that you will let them know within one or two days.
A couple of post-call notes here:
- Create a checklist for that type of job if you don’t have one.
- Don’t settle for anything less than full ownership of the material that’s created for your business including the copyright for that material. This is really important because it lets you legally edit, remix, reuse, and recreate indefinitely without having to ask permission.
3. End-of-Day Checklist
This is something I do at the end of every business day. It has 11 steps. but they’re all really simple.
- Take a deep breath and tidy up. If you take 10 minutes at the end of every day to put things in order, you could start the next day much better than if you don’t.
- Review emails to make sure there’s nothing urgent. When I finish my business day, I take my phone, put it in the kitchen, and don’t look at it until the end of the day, when I check for any urgent messages.
- Record one big achievement. I did this today. It was awesome.
- Review my to-do list. This is my Trello board. I want to make sure that there’s nothing urgent or important that I’m missing.
- Record any notes in my life sheet. I’ll take notes throughout the day. If there’s anything that I need to consider, I’ll record it in my Google docs so that it becomes searchable.
- File anything that’s out. If I have any paperwork out, I file it so I don’t have papers building up in my office.
- Take out any dishes. It sucks having dirty cups and plates out in the morning when you’re coming to start a fresh new day.
- Remove anything extra from the desk.
- Replace my pencil and pen.
- Wipe my desk down so it looks pristine and ready to go for the next day.
- Close all the windows on my computer. That way, when I come in the morning and shake my mouse and my computer turns on, I have a clear screen with a nice background and we’re ready to get to work.
I hope that adopting these three operating procedures inspires you to make positive changes for yourself and your business.
Do you have SOPs in place for your life or business? Tell us about them in the comments below!
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