By Caroline Creedon
Maximising Your Workflow
Workflows tend to get bogged down by five essential problems that prevent us from getting things done smoothly and efficiently. The focus here is understanding which roadblocks you feel apply most to your own workflow, then coming up with solutions to overcome those blockages.
Five Key Workflow Bugs
1. Too much to do. You simply have too much on your plate at one time. For every task, you tick off, another five pile up.
2. Others are too demanding. Expectations of your work capacity are too high. Your inbox is someone else’s to-do list; mostly made up of demands added to your workflow by other people.
3. Easily distracted. It’s all too easy to get sidetracked these days. We all get monkey brains from time to time, and the internet doesn’t help.
4. Too much friction. It’s difficult to get through things once you start them because there’s just too much getting in your way.
5. Unable to finish. You’re great at getting started but you struggle to follow through and reach the finish line.
Which of these five problems resonates most with you?
The truth is, there’s probably a little bit of each happening for all of us.
Remember this: You have to fit your own oxygen mask before you can help others.
So okay, at least one (if not all) of these problems sounds familiar. What happens next? We map out the solutions we can implement on a daily basis to help us overcome these roadblocks and get our workflow running smoothly again.
1. Say No.
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again. There’s no harm in turning down something you simply don’t have the space for. Breakthroughs come through elimination.
What’s one thing that sitting on your to-do list right now that you should’ve said no to?
Saying no isn’t always that straightforward, and I get that, but saying no can come in different ways. You can delete the email, for starters. You can delegate it. Nowadays, you can probably even digitize it.
For every task you consider saying yes to, ask yourself these simple questions first:
•Is this on mission?
If not, get rid of it.
If yes, then ask yourself:
•Does this need to get done now?
•Does this need to be done by you?
Sometimes you’re defined more by what you say no to than what you say yes to.
2. Work In Sprints.
Setting aside time to get things done and only allowing yourself a set amount of time to push through them can really help your overall productivity. Imagine if you set aside 50 minutes a day to a distraction-free environment, dedicated to getting one task (and one task only) done.
3. Don’t Try to Multitask.
There’s a lot of neuroscience research to prove that humans aren’t capable of effective multitasking. If you try, you’re only going to get haphazard results. Switch on when you’re on and switch off when you’re off.
4. Play By Your Own Rules.
Your life, your business, your rules. Determine what your rules are and stand by them. This can be tricky to implement, I know.
Start with the basics. Set conditions for yourself and the people around you. If it means turning your phone to not disturb you for an hour, so be it.
5. Treat the Water.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed and start beating yourself up over it? Do you let the backlog of work bog you down? What’s surrounding you that puts you in this mindset?
Think of it this way: When your goldfish gets sick, you don’t give it medicine, you treat the water.
So now, consider how your environment or workspace impacts your workflow.
Whether it’s people, tools, or your physical workspace, think about how you could alter your environment to improve your workflow.
For some people, maybe it’s a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door or setting your Slack status as “Away.”Maybe it’s simply blocking out time in your calendar for dedicated work sprints.
6. Hand It Over.
If you’ve gotten started on something, but no longer have the time or capacity to finish it off, hand it over to someone on your team. Get the ball rolling, then delegate it.
Whether you delegate to a team member, outsource it, or hire a contractor, the point is the maximize your workflow in every possible instance. If you don’t have the capacity for something but it’s still a priority and you know it needs to get down, consider who you might be able to hand it over to.
Ultimately, this is a lesson in getting the most out of your workflow. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to how we get things done, but when we narrow down the basic problems and apply some of these solutions, we can smooth out any kinks.
When it comes to implementing these solutions, start by prioritizing the roadblocks that are causing the most holdups and those which will give you the most benefit when you resolve them. Everything else will follow!
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