How do I define a successful workflow? By achieving a desired outcome using a trusted system that that I can work through with minimal mental energy and in the least amount of time possible. So how does one get there? Any successful workflow recipe has key ingredients. Let me elaborate.
A good worflow requires having the right tools for the job. What are the right tools? That depends on the processes involved and the desired outcome of your workflow. I will discuss my tools in a future post. But for now, this is something to chew on.
It's easy to get caught up in trialing every new productivity tweak, utility or program that will "help you get organized" or "make your more efficient". This is a weakness of mine. I often end up with all sorts of tools that do the same job. Find out what works, then get rid of the clutter.
When you figure out what is you need to do, you need to set up your order of business. It helps to create a rhythm for your work. Follow a regular pattern. Just make sure your pattern has you doing whatever is most urgent or important first. If work is time sensitive, prioritize by due date. If it is not, prioritize by what is most important to you. Also, prioritize by context. Are you at your desk, on the road, at home or in the garage working? Prioritize tasks based off what you are able to do where you are and with the tools currently available to you.
Blocking means two things:
1) Block your time: You don't need to check email every 10 minutes. You do need to set aside a workflow period 2 or 3 times a day for maybe 15 minutes at a time. Blocking your time means setting aside a time in your calendar or itinerary for going through your workflow. My inititial morning workflow is about 60 minutes long. And then I have a regular "on the go" workflow that I can do from my smartphone every 3 to 4 hours through the rest of the day This frees up big blocks of time throughout the day that you can use for whatever you need, your boss needs or your family needs or maybe just some quiet time to meditate or nap. I will be sure to share more on my workflows later.
2) Block the noise: When in your workflow, block out ALL distractions. Don't multitask and be sure to find a place where you can work through all the stages of your workflow that will give you the least amount of distraction. For me, that is early in the morning before my wife and daughter wake up and throughout the day from inside my vehicle parked safefly in a random location. Distractions can be games, social networks, TV, music and even actual people. Focus.
Make it a habit. Once you find what works, stick with it. Muscle memory is your friend. Get familar with your devices, the critical applications that make up your workflow. Learn the settings, the keyboard shortcuts and anything else that will help you complete a task with the desired result as quickly as possible.
If you find these tips useful, please share. There is so much in this life that we want to experience but lack the time or energy to do so. Finding a workflow that works for you will keep you from being a prisoner to a never-ending checklist.