I have become, for the most part, a self taught guru of Excel. I recall that about 12 years ago, when I was looking for a new job, I had an interview with a company for a position that sounded great!. The only problem was that they needed someone with a working knowledge of Excel who could take to the ground running and I had never used Excel in my life. Despite my being quick on the uptake, they didn't have time to train.
Would-a, could-a, should-a. Oh, well. Life worked out and the Lord got me my job at the law firm where I am now. We'll assume that He'll let me know when it's time to move on… hopefully in a less emotionally catastrophic way.
Anyway, Big Boss Man #1, Steve, has a fondness for spreadsheets, charts and the like. In the beginning it was one small chart that was originally just a table in Word. But then his appetite was only whetted. Before I knew it, we had spreadsheets with tables and pie charts and graphs.. (Oh, my!) Frankly, I remember attending a staff meeting where the mental health person came and chatted with us and told us about being wary of enabling people. I'm concerned that I'm enabling Steve's addiction. It's fun, though, so I don't complain.
Each month, I run reports from our software and take certain info from these reports and enter it all into my spreadsheet and print out his monthly helping of information. He also gets weekly snack-size portions of reports and stuff, but as the name would suggest, it's much smaller.
All was well until last year when, as you may recall, I was off for not one, but two surgeries. (One planned, the other, not so much.) As I was preparing to be off for the first surgery, I knew that during my time off, there would be a month-end in there that someone would have to prepare Steve's info, lest the poor boy start going thru withdrawal symptoms. The only problem with someone else doing the reports, charts, etc., was that I was going to have to prepare explicit instructions on how to do each thing. Either that or it was going to be a monster conference call to Rose for telephonic instructions.
I started back in February, as soon as we knew for sure that the surgery was going to happen. Since I feel that my odds of being run over by a bus (I tend to envision a red double-decker like in England, don't know why) while crossing the street one evening are much greater than they were of me dying on the table, I probably should have started the instruction manual a LONG time ago, but that's neither here nor there. I now have a three-ring binder with instructions on each aspect of my job, or most of them, in case that ubiquitous bus runs me over in the street. (It's a work in progress really.) Otherwise, I just know that Steve would really break down at my funeral and probably even have to engage a medium to conduct frequent séances to reach me from the other side to help someone could run his reports, etc., and frankly, when I go to my eternal rest, I want to rest!
Why am I bringing this up today? Well, glad you asked. Yesterday, as I prepared the August month-end reports, etc., I was fine-tuning a new report that Steve's imagination and my Excel skills had come up with in July. All the while, I knew, just KNEW, that I was going to have to translate all of what I was doing it into written instructions. As it is, the poor girl who runs these things when I'm out of the office during month-end (which isn't often, but I'm sure she feels like it is) panics whenever I email her a new or updated set of instructions, just sure that I'm taking next month off… (oh, that sounds nice… I wonder if there are any other surgeries I could plan for the fall… memo to self, investigate that).
Today, I spent hours, HOURS, writing up instructions for running this report and producing the corresponding chart for Steve. Also, I took the opportunity to update/correct the already written instructions and to whip up instructions on another area that was missing. Now imagine, if you will, writing up instructions for something that you've done for years, mostly by habit by now, and for the most part not even consciously thinking about what you're doing. The instructions are for someone who is only vaguely familiar with Excel and only does it rarely, so each time might as well be the first time.
For example, to blow your nose, the instructions would go 1) go to store, 2) walk down aisle 6, 3) look left, 4) choose box of tissues, 5) walk to counter, 6) pay dude behind counter for tissues… and then under number 6 there would have to be sub instructions regarding payment… and you've never even got to the nose yet!
It's a good thing that I take it as a challenge to write clear, concise instructions... and I like to write. And aren't you glad? :)