Process, templates and lists make your life easier

Filing cabinet system with books color organized on top

One meeting with me and you know I’m a process person who looks for efficiencies to keep myself organized. I have a notebook for my daily to-do checklist. I have a notepad for time tracking, with a hand drawn time sheet that I fill in to make my real time submission easier. I have my Outlook calendar color coded by client so I can quickly see what my week looks like.

Joanna and Clea (for The Home Edit fans out there) really missed out not hiring me, because I’m all about a SYSTEM. In case you aren’t already an organizational guru, maybe this blog post can shed some light on why having systems in your business’ workflow are crucial to success.

Templates establish consistency and manage expectations.

When it comes to working on something across a team, having things templatized does two really important things. First, it creates consistency. A template sets the standards for how an editor or reviewer is going to receive information. This makes their job easier because they know exactly where to look for things. Second, having templates help define what is expected from the person using it. It eliminates the, “Do I need to fill this in? Well what about this information?” If it’s part of the template, there is an expectation that some level of information is needed. If it’s not there, it’s not needed. My favorite PR example here is an editorial calendar.

Checklists reduce stress and add a layer of accountability.

When you’re in a team setting, folks might get pulled into projects or assignments that they’re not totally versed in. Having checklists allow people to be easily plugged into workflows because they have reminders of the steps they need to take along the way. It also makes management easier because you can quickly check someone’s work. Internally, we use some checklists for building campaigns in HubSpot, because we do those quarterly and usually rotate the responsibility across a team.

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Worksheets provide a sandbox for planning and exploration.

Sometimes, you just need to do a little planning and brainstorming, and worksheets establish guardrails to help get ideas out without actually putting them into action first. Pen and paper are still good friends of mine. Printing worksheets out, or using scrap paper and fun-colored pens, help me free-form think, with some prompts to keep me on track.

Processes and systems are only good as the people and tools in them.

Even though I’m a big fan of processes and systems, you can’t put a system into place if you don’t have buy-in, maintenance, consistency and evaluation. As workloads ebb and flow, you may realize the set-up you had a couple of years ago just doesn’t work anymore. Or maybe you’ve lost staff and you need to consolidate things. Take the time to review what you have in place, find opportunity for enhancements and check in with the people most ingrained in the process to see what works – and what doesn’t.

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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