How To Create "The Manual of You"

Ikea Instructions  

In the first fundamental of Less Doing, namely, the 80/20 rule, I talk about the importance of tracking your resources. You need to understand how you spend your time and get things done in order to optimize all of the processes in your life. While some people might complain about the vagueness of IKEA instructions, you have to admit, they have broken down the process of building something, into a set of instructions that is language independent, requires as few steps as possible, and are for the most part fail-proof. The goal with your processes should be exactly the same. You need to break them down to the fewest, most explicit steps possible so that they are easier for you, and more importantly they can be automated or outsourced entirely.


You all have processes that you go through on a regular basis like checking your email, writing reports, doing research, generating content, reviewing materials, making meals, etc...these can be things you do on a daily or weekly basis, or even just once in a while. The problem is that most of these activities have become routine, we do them without even thinking about them, almost as if on autopilot. That might seem like a good thing but the truth is, if you can get these things done on autopilot, then someone else can probably get them done for you. It's easy to fall in that trap of thinking you are the only one who can do the things that make your world spin, but have you ever stopped and considered the steps you actually take?

As an exercise, think about something you do often, now describe, on a very granular level, each step you go through in order to complete that activity. Think about it as if you were creating "The Manual of You" and you were going to give it to someone, who doesn't know you, or how you work, and they have to get that task done. This can and should be applied to most of the things you spend your time doing.

I have clients go through this exercise with incredibly complex and precise tasks with the same results, the perfect instruction manual. I had one client start with a process that was 10 pages long and ended up with 11 easy to follow steps. A personal example involved providing a potential student to one of my Skillshare classes with a discount code. If someone can't make it to a session they paid for, I'll have my assistant generate a code for them so they can sign up for a future class for free. The process looks like this:

2. Login using user name ****** and password *******
3. Go to Dashboard at the top of the page
4. On the left hand side you will see upcoming classes. Hover over the date of the specified class and hit manage (it should pop up in orange).
5. On the right hand side you will see discount codes, choose create new code and a little box will pop up. 
6. You then choose the name of the code, which can be whatever you want. (Example: for August 15th I would title it: AUG15). 
7. Next put in appropriate discount and the number of codes you would like to create. Then hit create.
8. You will want to note the URL of the page you are on, because that is what you will send in the email with the code for where to sign up.
9. Last step is emailing the code w/ instructions to the person on the original email.

Now the first time I wrote this out I left out step number 3 and the whole process had 16 steps instead of the current 9. So When I initially got the 16 steps I looked at it and found immediate redundancies which I removed. The first time I sent the task off to a FancyHands assistant, they quickly pointed ou that they didn't know where the "upcoming classes" link was (which prompted me to realize I had glossed over the step explaining that they had to go to the dashboard first). The second time I sent it off, I got a different person (and hence, different perspective) since FancyHands is an On-Demand assistant service, and they pointed out the superfluous aspects of some of the latter steps.

It's also important to get in the mindset of "If This Than That." Meaning, you want there to be little to no communication between the time you assign the task to the time you get confirmation the task has been successfully completed. So you need to anticipate problems or forks in the road. In the task above, I might have added a line that said, "If more than one upcoming class date exists, provide discount code for all dates" to avoid the question of "Which date did you want the code for?" Even if it means adding an additional step for situations that come up less often, you only have to write it once, and it will save you from having to take the time to deal with it over and over.

The point of all this is that in the end I was able to break this task down to an incredibly efficient, error-proof process that ANYONE can follow and complete. Once a process has been perfected, delegating out of your sight and out of your mind is about as easy as can be.

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