Contributed post by Joshua Zerkel, Productivity Ambassador
If you or someone in a key role were to take a sick day or a vacation, would someone else be ready to pick up the slack? Would a new hire be able to learn a specific task without you sitting next to them and walking them through it? Or what if you just want to save yourself the headache of remembering a lengthy process the next time you need to get it done?
Documenting important tasks that keep your business moving forward is a great practice for professionals, whether you work on a team or are trying to be a more productive individual. Keeping notes about your workflow makes it a lot easier to remember how to do things, share your tasks with others, and make sure that everyone understands what needs to be done and exactly how to do it. It also makes things a lot easier when the unexpected occurs – when your processes are written down, someone else can easily fill-in.
Here are a few ways I use Evernote, Skitch, and Clarify to help me document different kinds of workflows:
Documenting Simple Procedures
Evernote is a great place to keep non-screen-based workflows written down, such as procedures for follow-up phone calls to clients, or steps on the computer that don’t need detailed explanation, like sending an email. For these types of workflows, I use the checkbox and numbered list features to outline specific steps, then add text to further explain items, if needed.
Documenting Complicated Workflows
For any workflow where someone needs to complete detailed actions on a computer, pictures are always better than words. The idea behind documenting your processes and workflow is to save time; using a combination of text and images can help minimize confusion so that others are able to complete the correct steps quickly and efficiently. There are two ways I’d recommend documenting this type of workflow:
Skitch + Evernote
Skitch lets you grab a screenshot, annotate it, and send it directly to Evernote for a simple way to document, store, and share simple screen-based processes. It’s often hard to remember exactly what every screen in every application does or what every icon means. Instead of struggling to figure it out each time, you can take a screenshot and use Skitch to highlight all the details you need. And, if you store it in Evernote, all your notes on the process will be available to you or a teammate with a simple search. The combination of Skitch + Evernote is great for documenting a single screen or a single step in detail.
Clarify + Evernote
Clarify (available in the Evernote Trunk) is a great tool for documenting multi-step workflows on your computer. With Clarify, you can take multiple screenshots, annotate each one, organize them into a series of steps, and add additional text to further explain each step. Once you’ve created the entire workflow document, you can save it directly to your Evernote account for collaboration or sharing. A good example of when you might want to use Clarify is in explaining how to send out an email newsletter, which usually involves a number of critical steps.
Once you’ve documented your processes you can then store them in a Shared Notebook, then set view, modify and share permissions for each person your share the notebook with.
Or, if you’re using Evernote Business, add them to a notebook in your Business Library so that anyone you work with can access them when needed. In my business, I’ve created notes for using our CRM tool, accounting software, and even how to post an item to our blog at www.CustomLivingSolutions.com – each of these processes has many steps and would be hard to explain with just words!
Don’t forget to check out my new book, Evernote @ Work! It’s available in the Trunk, and it’s loaded with ways you can use Evernote in your daily work to make things easier, more effective, more collaborative, and more productive for you and your company.
Do you use Evernote as part of your daily workflow? Tell us about it in the comments!