If you want something done right, then do it yourself…I mean writing the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) so that you can pass it off to someone else!
Let’s chat about simple ways to create a way to always feel confident in passing on the work that doesn’t have to be ours.
The 5 Whys of Root Cause Analysis Transcript
Have you ever wanted to look at all the things you do in a day? Like every single little minute step from school, to momming, to soccer practice to bedtime, all of it.
Honestly, I don’t really think I want to look at everything I do in a day. But it is kind of eye opening to list out the steps of what we do, and see how much not only we accomplish, but we are thinking through and responsible for every day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just pass that responsibility on to someone else. Maybe we don’t have to hand over everything, but we can hand over certain things that we just don’t need on our plate right now.
Standard Operating Procedures
And the way we’re going to do that is with SOPs. Those are standard operating procedures.
Using a Standard Operating Procedure
In a factory, what would happen is you would create a standard operating procedure for each job. It’s essentially the way that a job should be performed. All of the steps laid out, the prep, the actual actions, the clean up, pictures of how stations should look, where materials should go. It’s kind of like the end all be all manual of that position. Because in the factory, somebody could be hired the next day. Somebody could be moved around from one job to another, and they need to know what’s going on, but they need it in quick, simple steps. And they need it to be crazy obvious, which is why pictures are included.
Using Standard Operating Procedures in Our Own Lives
So if this is going to work for factories, to let other people jump in on the action and take over some of that stress, and fill in the spots where we might need help…then let’s do that in our lives, too.
I spent a summer creating standard operating procedures for a factory that I worked for. It was eye opening, not only to learn all of the different positions and all the different steps that each specific station had to go through, but also to see where there was just wasted time. Where we were losing time based on where a tool was, or when somebody had an issue, they would have to abandon their station for so long. There are also some extraneous steps that just didn’t make sense, and then we could simplify it right then and there.
Benefits of Pictures
Also pictures! I learned how important pictures are at this job. If I took a picture of their station, before and after their shift was over, it should look the exact same as three weeks from now, after seven other people have been there.
Having that knowledge, allowed them to feel confident in what they are grabbing, what they’re putting back. They always knew it was the right thing for them to use, but it also just kept things organized. And I think we all could use a little bit more organization, right?
Creating Standard Operating Procedures
For today’s simple step, I’m going to walk you through a process of how you might create your standard operating procedure so that it can be handed off to other people. If the time comes that you just need it off of your own plate.
I’m hoping that you’re also still looking at things that, like we talked about in episode two, is it really yours? Are these tasks that you have to do?
Your sub plans. Those are standard operating procedures. You are telling a sub the bare bones steps of what needs to happen, what they need to know before school starts, what’s happening during school, and then hopefully what they need to do when they leave the classroom. We hope it ends up looking the exact same as we left it, but we know that doesn’t always happen.
That standard operating procedure is the bare bones of your job during the day. The tasks that you have to do during the day.
Let’s think about grading though, When we have a standard operating procedure for grading, it’s a rubric. We have given ourselves a step-by-step guide for how to go through the process of grading something.
The one thing you maybe haven’t considered is if you have a TA, like a student teaching assistant, what are some things that they can take on for you on a pretty regular basis? And what steps would they need to take?
Can you write out steps for your TA to load and unload the dishwasher full of glassware (specifically looking at my science teachers and Chem teachers)? What about writing a step-by-step guide for your TA to go make copies for you? Can you write a step-by-step guide for how you input grades into a gradebook? Maybe if you have a student teacher they can have that ready to go.
Creating Your Own Standard Operating Procedures at School
What I do when I start a new position is, I start a Google Doc full of all the things that I am learning and how I need to do it. That way, when I learn something new and forget it two weeks later, I can go back to the Google Doc and look it up. It’s a standard operating procedure I can use for myself later on.
Especially when it comes to something like doing semester weighted grades in the gradebook. You do it once a year, and then you forget how to do it the next year. Well, if I keep a doc that has the step-by-step procedure for how to do it, then I can do that the next year without really needing to frantically look around and try to figure out who might know the actual answer.
How to Create an SOP
Let’s just take the loading of the dishwasher for an example, because it’s something pretty easy..and whether or not you do it at home or at school, it’s going to be basically the same steps.
Now, if you know that the test tubes need to go in a special container, and they need to go on the top rack, then you need to put that down and your standard operating procedure. You need to make that a very important point before you’re telling somebody how to start the dishwasher. They need to know the step that goes into it to make sure that everything is loaded correctly.
So how do they work on the beginning of it? What are the steps that they need to know? How do they turn on the dishwasher? You would not believe the number of people graduating high school who have never run a dishwasher before!
Then what are they going to do once it’s done? Where do things go? Is there an order you want them to put them away? Do you need to drip dry some of the stuff before it actually gets put away?
Write all of these things down. It will take some time in the front end, but then maybe you just post that right next to your dishwasher. You can ask your TAs year after year after year to go take care of the dishwasher, and the steps are right there because you spent those glorious five minutes getting it ready for them.
Standard Operating Procedures at Home
Using SOPs for Chores
At home, SOPs are great for chores. As your kids get older, and they can read and they can take on more responsibility. You can give them step-by-step instructions.
When they’re little, this is where pictures come in really handy. You can also use this with a smaller classroom, like if you’ve got kindergarten through probably third grade. Provide them a picture of what a space is supposed to look like, and let them go clean it.
That is a standard operating procedure for somebody who can’t read. If we just want the space to be clean, and if our bins are labeled with other pictures, they should be able to figure out where things need to go. And they shouldn’t need a whole lot of guidance from us, which is the whole point of all of this.
SOPs for Meal Planning
When you meal plan, one of the easiest SOPs to do is to make sure that first of all, everyone in your family knows where the meal plan is, but then you can add a note saying where the recipe can be found for that meal plan.
Or even better, you can print the recipes out that you’re going to use and put them right behind your meal plan. Then as you use them, you can just put them back wherever you got them. And it works out amazing because that is the easiest one.
If you are running late, or you just do not want to cook dinner, you can just say, “Hey, the recipe is up on the meal plan.” The recipe is its own guide step-by-step. Here’s how you get dinner ready. Here’s how you make this meal, so I don’t have to!
SOPs for Things That Happen Once or Twice a Year
One that I think is often overlooked, but can be very helpful, are those things that only come up once or twice a year around your house. Like maybe if you need to change air filters. Or if you need to call somebody to get your irrigation looked at, or to get your carpets cleaned. Writing down those steps, and then adding a note to a calendar event.
So like me, I love to use Google Docs for lots of note taking things. I don’t use the notes app on my phone, because it just isn’t intuitive enough for me to go back and check it. But if I can link things to a Google Doc, say I have a calendar event that says change your air filters, well, I can go into the Google Doc and maybe one of the steps even links me to the Amazon posting with my exact air filter. That makes it so easy for me.
But I created that document for myself to save myself some time. And if I don’t get around to it, I can just share that document with other people. I can put it on the shared family calendar so that my husband could also see it. Let’s be honest, he’s the one that knows when the air filters need to be changed, but this was a really good example, so I had to keep it in here.
Using SOPs to Pack for Trips
Another great one to hand off is creating a standard operating procedure for packing for trips, so that other people can pack for themselves. And that again might depend on how old your kids are, but you can always just hand your spouse a list and say, “Here’s what you need to pack. Here’s what you’re packing it in…go!” and they can just take it from there.
You can create one for yourself, too. You can create your own standard operating procedure saying you are only going to pack this, this, and that because this is all you ever use when you’re on trips, and you’re gonna pack it in this carry on, because we don’t want to check a bag again, let’s go! Let’s do it! And you’ve cut out some of those decisions for yourself.
Standard Operating Procedures in Your Personal Life
Another really great way to use SOPs is in your personal life. You can use it to cut out decisions that you just don’t want to make.
I know we talked about deciding once in the last episode, and I still think that’s the ultimate goal, but there are some times where you don’t want to just decide once and be done forever.
Maybe it’s choosing a nail color. Maybe that is going to change seasonally, but you don’t remember what colors you liked last spring. So keep a note that lists out the standard operating procedure for picking colors each season. Which colors did you really like? Which one did you get for your friend’s wedding that you would really love to get again, for your girls strip?
If you can keep a log of that you’re keeping your own standard operating procedure from making the choices around what nail color to get.
The Challenge – Write Your Own SOPs
The challenge is to go ahead and try out writing a standard operating procedure for something that happens pretty regularly in your day. It’s something that you’re definitely currently in charge of, but that you would love to pass off to somebody else in the future.
You need to decide, first of all, where you’re going to keep the standard operating procedure. I strongly recommend something like a Google Doc that can be shared or copy and pasted from into a message to somebody else.
Then you need to decide how you’re going to write it. Is it going to be mostly with pictures? What type of steps are you going to include? Make sure to include what needs to happen before, during and after the event.
You then need to evaluate what you wrote, or what you took pictures of. Is this achievable for some people other than you? Is there something in there that’s just a little extra that you can cut out? Will other people need to follow these steps exactly to accomplish the same thing? Because if they don’t need to follow those steps exactly to accomplish the same end result, that means that you are also spending time that you can be using somewhere else…just kind of adding fluff.
Testing Out Your SOP
The best step is testing it out. Give your standard operating procedure to somebody else and let them take over the task for the night.
My personal suggestion is if you have kids, go ahead and hire a babysitter to do all of the dinner and bedtime routine for you. Write out your standard operating procedure for those two times, making sure that it’s simple enough that they can follow it, but also that you feel confident that everything is getting done the way it needs to get done. Then go enjoy your night.
I hope that you are able to figure out how you can invest the time now in writing some SOPs and creating that standard operating procedure for others to follow in the future, so that you do not have to be the one personally responsible for it all.
Let’s take a little bit more weight off of your shoulders. And let’s share the love.
If you missed the last post, visit the link below:
Episode 12 – Decide Once and Done
5 Steps to Simplify Your To Do List
Unit Planning Kit
How to Find Me
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Keywords: standard operating procedure, pictures, Google Doc, SOPs, meal plan, steps