From ‘Kind of Sort of’ to ‘Crystal Clear’: The Case for Thorough Task Documentation


There are many tasks that we think we know how to do, but end up getting stuck and wasting time because of some minor oversight. The solution is proper documentation.

Person documentation with pen and paper


Recently a coworker ran into an issue that took several hours and a lot of stress to sort out. I ran into the same issue two or three years ago and vaguely remembered the five minute fix he needed to resolve his issue. However, because I never documented the process to perform this task, my explanation to him was a little fuzzy and he didn’t understand what I was trying to tell him.

While my communication in this situation wasn’t the best. I believe the root cause was the fact that I only “kind of sort of” remembered what I was talking about. It’s hard to clearly express what you don’t clearly understand. Had I done a better job of documenting the correct procedure I could have saved my coworker a lot of stress and time.

Issues in development and SEO

This is something I see often in both web development and search engine optimization (SEO). The truly day to day tasks become so repetitive to us that we can usually get away with doing them from memory, at least until we need to train a new person. The odd ball one off requests don’t need to be documented because they only ever occur once. But in the middle there are tasks that we do often enough to THINK we know what we are doing, but infrequent enough that there is always something we forget.

For me these tend to be tasks that I do quarterly. Infrequent enough that I tend to forget exactly what I am doing and end up getting stuck, or doing them in correctly and having to repeat. But frequent enough that 30-60 minutes wasted trying to remember what I did last time, adds up and ends up hurting my productivity.

I have started stepping back and looking at each of my tasks as a manager who needs to train a new person on how to do them. Even if they are tasks that I ALWAYS do, I try to look at them in this light. Then I create a step by step list of how to complete the task. Sometimes this is written in Google Docs, sometimes I add some screenshots, other times (and I’m trying to move more this way) I use Loom or some other video service to record the whole process.

Two Johns

When manager John does a good job of documenting, then the John that is doing boring low level tasks has a much easier time and is able to get back to the more “important” things quicker.

This documentation becomes even more important when we are trying to train a new person.

About John Wierenga

John Wierenga Credentials and Certifications

  • Degree in Web Development from Baker College- Magna Cum Laude.
  • Bachelor Professional Studies – Business & Management – Summa Cum Laude
    • Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society
    • Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society
John Wierenga SEO Certificate from 45 Day SEO Challenge Course (Marketing Syrup).
Just some of my LinkedIn Learning Certificates
John Wierenga's Certificate Of Completion Agile Foundations
John Wierenga's Certificate Of Completion Leading Remote Projects and Virtual Teams
John Wierenga's Certificate Of Completion Social Media Marketing Strategy and Optimization
John Wierenga's Certificate Of Completion Technical WordPress SEO