5 Tips for Following Instructions

From cooking to playing games to building furniture, following instructions are a part of everyday life. In the workplace they can make or break a project. Read on for 5 tips for following instructions.

Playing “Simon Says”, following recipes and completing a school or work project all involve the same thing: following instructions. No matter what shape it takes, following instructions is a great skill to have in life, both in the home and the workplace because it ensures safety for yourself and others, it shows reliability, and it minimizes mistakes. Here are tips that can help you tackle following instructions.


Sometimes the instructions and projects that have to be done are not enjoyable. Sometimes it is the task at hand, other times it is because of the people or environment.  Either way, it is something that has to get done. Having a positive attitude can help the process run smoothly. It can strengthen relationships and communication skills that will help with other projects down the road.

Actively Pay Attention

It is important to focus on what the person is saying. Avoid distractions or trying to multi-task when someone is talking about instructions.  If the instructions are written out like in an email or while taking a test, read over them carefully before starting on anything. Rushing through instructions can lead to steps being skipped and lots of mistakes being made.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is a helpful way to get clarification on what is expected. Ask about deadlines, details about how the person wants specific tasks done, or any other aspects of the project that might seem unclear. Get as much information as possible so you can start the project with confidence. Another approach is to restate the instructions to see if you are on the same page as the person giving instructions. Being direct with questions helps there to be little confusion and the tasks will more likely be completed correctly the first time.

Write things down

It can be helpful to write down notes when getting instructions. That way, the notes can be referred back to when completing the task. This also could help you think up questions to ask. It can also be helpful to write down the steps it will take to complete the task to break down the instructions even more. This helps you see every step that needs to be taken and what actions you will take to complete the steps.

The foundation of following instructions is communication. Being able to listen and interpret what others are saying as well as asking for clarification is key. Following instructions is a two-way street. If the instructions are unclear, talk to the person who gave them to you. It is better to communicate than to miss the mark entirely.  If you want assistance walking through these tips for your job or have any other employment needs, reach out to a Mary Rigg Employment Coach by calling 317.639.6106 or clicking here.