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Worker Productivity, Coffee and Donuts

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On occasion I help out with one of the hospitality programs at our church: coffee and donuts after the service. You might be shocked just at the level of planning involved in such a simple task.

Before we go any further, I have to share the official church documentation which explains the program. You don’t have to read it all, just scan through it and try not to let your jaw drop too much:

After Mass Refreshments (Coffee and Donuts)

The Coffee and Donuts Ministry provides an opportunity for parishioners to gather after Mass to socialize over hot coffee and donuts. Coffee and Donuts are served after the 8:00 & 9:30 a.m. Masses on the 1st and 3rd Sundays each month. Ministry members purchase supplies, set-up, serve and clean-up for the gatherings.

Coffee and Doughnut Ministry Instructions

The Day Before
  • Call the the Doughnut Shoppe at 555-3836 on Saturday to remind them about donuts for our church. Be sure to mention the name of our parish! (They know that they are supposed to deliver doughnuts on both the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month, but sometimes they forget.)
  • Purchase 2 gallons of orange juice, 2 gallons of chocolate milk, one gallon of white milk, and one container of half and half. (Take your receipts and put them in an envelope marked “coffee and doughnuts,” and turn them over to Linda Smith (church secretary). You can place the receipts in the box on Linda’s door. She will cut a check for you in approximately two weeks.
Sunday Morning – Setup
  • Doughnuts will be served after the 8:00am and 9:30am Masses.
  • If it is your first time volunteering for this ministry, I would arrive around 7:50am.
  • People from the 8:00 am Mass start arriving around 8:40am.
  • The basement is left unlocked and doughnuts are either delivered to the basement or the front steps of the church by 7:30am.
  • Set up two tables right next to the kitchen and move the tables out so that people can go around them from both sides.
  • Get coffee ready. (See instructions below.)
  • Get the following from the supply closet that is located on your way to the women’s restroom; napkins, plates, and cups.
  • Get sugars and stir sticks from church cabinet.
  • Pour some juice and milk in cups. For the first Mass I do about 6 orange juices and 6 milks. You don’t get a lot of people for the first Mass and you don’t usually get many kids, so I don’t do chocolate milk.
  • For the second Mass, I do about 10 juices, 6 white milks, and 6 chocolate milks. In other words, you get a lot more people in general and you always get more kids.
  • Set up table. Here is how I usually do it. I place napkins, plates, doughnuts, cups with juice and cups with milk, coffee, half/half, and finally, sugar and stir sticks.
After First Mass
  • After first Mass, you can empty out coffee containers and start new pots of coffee.
  • Finally, you want to place the fish bowl at the beginning of the table. Throwing a dollar in the bowl helps to get things started.
  • You can put the leftover juices and milks in the refrigerator and the fishbowl in the cabinet before the next Mass, but everything else can stay out.
  • I usually attend the second Mass and come back downstairs after communion. I set out the coffee and pour more juices and milks.
  • Don’t forget to put the fishbowl out again.
Clean Up
  • Give leftover doughnuts to Father Bob. He gives them away.
  • Empty out coffee containers and dispose of coffee filters.
  • Put sugars and stir sticks back.
  • Put any plates, napkins, and cups back in the closet.
  • Wipe off tables.
  • Juice and milk can stay in the refrigerator. Someone will probably use what is leftover.
  • Count money and place in envelope. Put the following on the envelope:
    – Your name
    – Coffee and doughnut ministry
    – Date
    – Donation total
  • Note: The cafeteria helpers have noticed that sometimes volunteers do not clean up properly. Make sure that everything is clean before you leave!
Coffee Instructions
  • You should find regular and decaffeinated coffee in the cabinet under the counter in the kitchen.
  • For the first Mass, make one regular and one decaf pot.
  • For the second Mass, you might want to make two regular and one decaf.
  • One container should have a decaf sticker on it.
  • Find the filters in the cabinet under the table in the kitchen.
  • Place one half cup of coffee in each filter.
  • Place pot in their place and start coffee.
  • It is not necessary to fill the pot because the coffee maker fills up with water when you start it.

Note: We do have containers of both regular and decaffeinated coffee in the church cabinet. They should both say “Coffee and Doughnuts Ministry.” If you can’t find these particular containers, use what is available.

I think I have included everything! Should you need anything, you can call me at 317-555-6800.

Wow. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on that massive document. If you do have some coffee, now is the time to take a sip and think!

business consultants coffee break

© Flickr user lululemon athletica

You might think that volunteering to provide coffee and donuts might not come with any instructions. But if when you look through all of the text above, it should be clear that this is a record of experience. Somebody realized that it would be easier (and probably less expensive) to arrange with a local baker to buy donuts and deliver on a regular basis. But somebody also discovered that the Doughnut Shoppe isn’t all that reliable, so they need a reminder call! Somebody figured out that not many families with children come to the early service at 8:00AM, so there is no reason to set out chocolate milk. Somebody also discovered that another volunteer crew that manages the kitchen has been unimpressed with the cleaning skills of this group of volunteers.

There are two important lessons to learn from the document above. First, tasks are often more complicated than they seem. One might assume that providing coffee and donuts requires, you know, buying some coffee and donuts and then cleaning up afterwards. But there are countless tiny details people have learned over the years which inform this process.

The second lesson is that documents and procedures are really workplace artifacts. Just like a pottery shard or a renaissance painting tells you something about the culture and lifestyle of generations past, the text in an instruction sheet provides insight into the society of the organization that produced it.

Pay attention to the artifacts in your organization. Look for places where there are patterns, but nothing to communicate that wisdom to the next generation. Reach out to our business process transformation consultants at AccelaWork if you want to learn more.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


Troublemaker and productivity/workflow expert. Slightly more complex than 140 characters will permit.
@LaceyEverett @thenerdherd @naptownbri @indystar Well, when the original source doesn’t answer the questions, people start to speculate. - 3 weeks ago
Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

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