How to write work instructions easily
We all have writers block from time to time and if you are like me it’s quite a bit of the time.
It can be very debilitating and can stop you from documenting those systems that you have long planned to do.
So to help you with this I am going to propose a way for you to easily document your business systems and finally get all that great stuff out of your head and into your own system.
First of all, what is your objective ? Normally for me it is to produce a document that forms part of my overall company knowledge base.
It may be a policy, procedure, process or work instruction but you may call it something else, for me though, I like to call them work instructions because I think that conveys exactly what you are trying to achieve E.g. “INSTRUCTION ON HOW TO DO SOMETHING”
Get your head in the right space before you begin
It’s critical that you focus during this process, I suggest that you use the tomato timer technique or as it is now commonly known as the pomodoro timer technique, with this you divide up your writing into blocks of 25 minutes and allocate some factor to that time period.
For example you might decide that in writing a work instruction document you allocate 25 minutes for talking to stakeholders and the second 25 applied to putting it altogether in your policy and procedure software.
In between the time blocks you take a break of 5 minutes to refresh yourself and clear your head.
Now let’s look at how you might go about structuring a work instruction document for entering into your policy and procedure software.
The structure of a work instructions document
- What you will need before you begin
- Safety awareness
- Steps involved
Here you would put a simple statement about the expected outcome from following this work instruction. For example “Tyres safely fitted and wheels aligned to XXX standards” or if you are a tradesman in an air-conditioning company it might be “Air conditioner fitted safely and working to xxx standards”
What you will need before you begin
Here you would put a list of things that the reader should allow for.
How much time do you need to allocate. E.g. You will need at least 60 mins to complete this job
Tools and equipment
What tools you will need to complete this task. E.g. You will need a car jack, spanners and wheel tightnening tools
What parts need to be on hand to complete this job. E.g. For this task you will need 3 inch ring bolts and 44 cm angle xx brackets
What support people do you need if any? E.g. Due to health and safety requirements you will need another person to sight you when operating above 2 metres high when screwing the facia board on.
Paperwork and authority
What contracts or authorities need to be signed off before works begins. For example if this is a union controlled site does the worker need to produce a ticket to show authorisation to enter the site. A sample list of things to consider might be:
- Union tickets
- Licences & qualifications
- Various state government or council approvals
- Anything that may need to be sited by other individuals before work begins
Safety awareness and other factors that should be known
- E.g. Be careful when jacking the car and follow the xxx standards guidelines
- E.g. Be sure to have someone sight you if you have the car more than 2 metres from ground
The next two areas Tips and Traps is where all the past learned experiences good and bad can be passed on.
TIPS TO ASSIST (Previous knowledge)
Tips could relate to things like:
Timing :(the best time to complete this), weather conditons or availability of certain support staff
- Do this in the afternoon as the paint will dry better in humid conditions or do this on Wednesdays before the schools get out because traffic is easier
- Do this on Friday afternoons as business owners are more likely to have some spare time to talk to you
Provide practical examples to your reader
TRAPS (Previous knowledge)
Some bad practices in the past may have lead to costly mistales so why not list them here and show how the reader how to avoid them if they come up again.
E.g. Make sure the air conditioner is grounded to the xx frame as we have found that electrical shocks occur if grounded elsewhere.
List here the step by step process that you want followed
- Turn off power
- Remove the cover
- Disconnect xx
- Complete work
- Report to site manager
- and so on
If you need to follow a standard approach each and every-time you write work instructions you can download a work instructions template here
Here are some other documents that may be of interest
- 10 Rules for Managing a Small Business
- 3 Tips to writing policies and procedures
- Best practices in policies and procedures
- Business model or a business plan?
- How to use bottlenecks in your business to help you write effective standard operating procedures (SOP)
- SOP Software to help you manage your standard operating procedures (SOP)
* Please read our disclaimer before downloading any of our documents