If you’ve ever looked at someone super productive and wondered how she (or he) manages to get it all done, the answer might surprise you: That person has great systems.
It’s true. The most productive people all have one thing in common: they don’t reinvent the wheel every day. Instead, they’ve figured out the best, most efficient way to do every task, and they create a system to do just that.
No matter what type of association you run, industry you serve or projects you're tackling, a systematized approach will help you:
- Work faster and produce more
- Produce higher quality results with fewer mistakes
- Easily outsource the tasks you don’t like to do
The Magic of Templates
How many times do you answer email from potential members? What about responding to routine questions about renewals or upcoming events? How often do you keep in touch with strategic partners?
All of these tasks (and more) become effortless when you create fill-in-the-blank templates that can be re-purposed for specific cases/people. Templates can be as simple as a “canned response” in your email client or help desk, or you can use software such as Sweet Process or HelpScout to create process documentation.
(HelpScout is what our team currently uses because we use their HelpDesk platform to support several of our clients, but we've also used and like Sweet Process quite a bit. We document every process we perform on a regular basis for our clients.)
While templates will undoubtedly save you time, the real beauty is that once they’re created, you can more easily outsource things like email and customer service. Simply instruct your assistant on the proper use of your templates, and you’ll be free to do other, more important things.
Checklists Prevent Mistakes
It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you perform the same tasks over and over again, it’s easy to miss a critical step. You might think you sent an essential report to the Board this month—you might even remember doing it—only to look back and see it was never completed.
But when you implement checklists, it’s suddenly much more difficult to miss an important task.
You can easily create checklists for all your common tasks and projects using nothing more than a text document. If you’re managing a team, checklists in your project management system allow you to see exactly what tasks are complete, and which are still outstanding.
Templates and checklists turn smart association leaders into productivity superstars, and it’s easy to get started. The next time you answer an email you’ve answered before, save your response. The next time you set up a new product in your shopping cart or create a new opt-in page, take the time to record the steps. These documents will make future projects easier and faster to complete, and best of all, you'll soon be able to hand those tasks off to your assistant to do instead.