An associate said, ”I feel overwhelmed.”
I asked her, “what’s your workflow?”
She looked at me stunned.
Truth be told, may people do not have a workflow.
Their days happen to them; instead of them planning how their day would look like.
Sure, even with the best laid plans, things don’t always go our way.
However, not planning at all is giving up control and take things as they come.
Which isn’t the best strategy.
What is a workflow
A workflow simply means how you capture, organize, prioritize, and act on things.
Let’s look at each process in turn.
Capture: Every day we are bombarded with a lot of information, both at work as well as personally. Your boss might need the report Friday at 10a.m. You need to share with your team the work that needs to be done in the coming month. Your car needs its regular servicing. Your rent is due. Your spouse wants you to pick up the pick after work. The list goes on.
Question is, how do you capture all these information that come your way. If you are like most people, you’d probably keep them all in your head. Problem with that is your brain will start reminding you every now and then, just so you remember to act on it. Thing is, you are likely not able to bring your car for servicing while putting together the report your boss wanted.
When that happens, you start feeling overwhelmed. It feels like there’s a lot to do, when in actuality, there is just a handful of tasks.
The best solution to address this is to capture everything in a trusted system where you can refer back to when needed. The system can either be analog or digital.
I prefer to use a digital system because it allows me to carry it everywhere I go. In this instance, my phone is the best tool.
Organize: Once the information is captured, it is time to organize it. For me, organizing these tasks mean putting them into various categories, e.g. work or personal.
Additionally, for work, I have various projects so I will have to decide which project does that task belong to and I’ll file it accordingly. One thing you must remind yourself is this: at this stage you are to organize the tasks; not act on it.
Oftentimes I am tempted to act on it, hence causing me to get overwhelmed because I realized I don’t have enough time nor energy to work on it.
If you use any task management tool, make sure you create the appropriate categories to hold these tasks.
Prioritize: Not all tasks are equal. Let me say that again. Not all tasks are equal. Some tasks are urgent but not important. Others might be important but not urgent.
Failure to recognize the difference between the two is crucial.
To classify something as urgent or important is probably quite personal.
But a rule of thumb is this: an important task requires you to act on it; whereas an urgent task acts on you.
Act: Finally, after all these capturing, organizing, and prioritizing you need to act. Taking action is so essential because without it nothing happens.
So make sure you act on the tasks.
This is my minimal productivity workflow.
Minimal because it is simple. However, simple does not mean it is easy.
There are times where I fall off the bandwagon too. The important thing is to pick yourself up and start again.
So which process of the productivity workflow do you need to incorporate into your own productivity workflow?
Or do you have a workflow to begin with?