I was sending a card to a friend this morning to make her day just a tad brighter. I pulled the stamp from the roll, placed it in the upper right hand corner of the envelope, and ran my thumb from left to right. I paused and smiled. How many times had I done this same thing, exactly this way?–Thousands of times. The exact number is not important, but the fact is that every time I apply the stamp, following the same process, I have confidence that the US Post Office will do its job and the letter will arrive to the intended person, on time. Every time. My process and that of the Post Office are tight processes: I prepare the envelope correctly with a stamp (and the thumb left to right action) and the post office sorts the incoming mail, routes it, and delivers it, every time, on time.
I worked as a consultant in a variety of large corporations in the 80’s and 90’s taking organizations through a movement called Total Quality. TQM as it was referred to, was all about having clearly defined processes across an organization that connected one department to another, getting the final product eventually to the end-user, be that an internal or external user. We referred to each department we were handing off work to as an “internal customer”, the next person in line to receive our work. We fully understood the needs and requirements of the next customer or user, and took responsibility for making sure we were delivering a quality product to them. The movement with its emphasis on redefining cumbersome processes was embraced fully and it was remarkable to see the reduction of unnecessary steps, the reduction of work errors, and most important, the improvement in the final product or outcome.
Like my application of the postage stamp, I have several processes that I followed religiously because they give me my desired outcome, every single time. My morning routine is one of those processes: I shower, do hair/makeu[, ask Alexa for the forecast, dress, eat breakfast and review my gratitude list. That gets me out the door, on time, looking and feeling as good as a 70-something woman can. When I am planning a Social Committee event for my condo, I complete a prioritized list of all that has to be done with a by whom and by when notation after each item. This makes planning simultaneous events manageable, and one that consistently results in a well-organized event. When friends ask me how I do all that I do, I know the answer lies in my clearly defined processes.
High SUCCESSTROGEN women have developed processes that work for them in their busy work and personal lives. Their consistency works well for those with whom they live and work, delivers what they need, and eliminates much stress in their lives. Sometimes processes need to be tweaked to accommodate changes because they no longer deliver the product we or the next user needs. High SUCCESSTROGEN women take the time to redesign a broken process so they continue to deliver their best.
I am not sure I did this well enough with my children years ago, but if I were parenting today I would focus on processes, helping my children understand how some routines in their lives will eliminate stress for them, keep them organized, and serve them well throughout their lives. As you know I also enjoy the spontaneous side of my life, where I pull some fun happening together based on a spur of the moment whim. I am able to do that because of a few, well organized processes in my day that allow me time and energy to respond to a sudden whim.
So give some thought to where a defined process will help you or your children, or consider redesigning a process that no longer delivers your anticipated outcome. The deal is not to become rigid with your life, but rather to select a few key processes that you commit to that will help you manage your day.