how do i avoid doing this again

How do I avoid doing this ever again? [PMP #226]

Last week I was talking to a client about how to save time during the day and I found myself sharing a common tip:

Whenever you find yourself doing a repetitive task, ask yourself:

“How do I avoid doing this ever again?”

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Whether a problem occurs, you get a customer support email or you simply need to do the same thing on a recurring basis, the easy thing to do is to kick the can down the road and treat the symptoms of a problem without dealing with the root cause. This means you will inevitably need to treat the problem again later, wasting your time. But if you take a bit of time to diagnose and treat the cause of the problem, it may take more time upfront, but saves you time in the long-run.

Once you diagnose why something needs to be done again and again, you can then work to 1) eliminate the need for this to happen again or 2) automate your manual processes so at least you don't have to be the one doing the work each time.

I like to ask myself this question on a regular basis. Here are a few examples of how I’ve saved time by eliminating problems or automating the solution:

  • Years ago I had issues with customers downloading their purchases from my website. It was a common problem that resulted in regular customer support emails. I therefore decided to move all downloadable content into a membership area of my site. Not only did this treat the root cause of the problem, saving me time but also resulted in a better experience for customers.
  • If I get questions from clients or customers about the products and services on my website, I ask myself whether I could have avoided this question by making the website clearer. I’ll then update the website accordingly.
  • If I get questions about Pipedrive or Asana, I’ll use this as the basis of a video. So instead of responding to one person, I can share the video publicly so I don’t get asked the same question again.
  • When I get a new client, I need to update my CRM (Pipedrive) and create new tasks for myself in my task management system (Asana). Rather than doing this manually each time, this is where automation tools like Zapier can help to streamline the process for you.
  • Being a heavy Zapier user, my business relies on a lot of automation to make things happen. If you’ve ever used Zapier before, you’ll be aware that sometimes Zaps fail to run for some reason. Maybe there was an issue with the data or the Zap setup. Either way, when these errors happen, I do my best to update the Zap to make it more reliable and ensure it runs better the next time.

You get the idea…

And as you can see, it’s a simple question that forces you to find permanent solutions or automate your processes.

The kicker here is that eliminating the problem permanently or automating a solution takes time. It’s the harder route to go down which is why so often we simply put up with doing the same thing again and again. This is funny because we then get frustrated when the same questions or problems come up again.

The exciting thing here is if you ask yourself this question enough, you eliminate more and more manual steps in your workflow. Meaning your time can be better spent on higher impact work.

So, next time you find yourself doing something you’ve done before or responding to a similar email that you’ve addressed for someone else, ask yourself this question; “How do I avoid doing this ever again?”