Can’t Keep up? 3 Ways to Simplify Your Workflow

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If you’re reading this post hoping to learn how to simplify your workflow so you can ADD more work to your day I hope you’ll reconsider. The whole point of simplifying is just that – to simplify. So you have mental space in your day to do important things like thinking and planning. Simplifying should free up some energy so you can tackle all you have to do with more vigor and have a little oomph leftover. Who couldn’t use more oomph?

A reality for us all to learn is that we can’t do everything.

Time to accept that there is no such thing as Supermom, or Superman. Chasing these fallacies will only lead us to not doing what it is we can do. Simplifying workflow is meant to decrease the stress of our workday while maintaining productivity. (If your processes are really in need of improvement, you’ll also experience a boost in productivity!)

Here are 3 tips that have helped me:

  1. Be Present. The science is in and multi-tasking has shown to be inefficient. Who knew? Well, now we do, so time to stop patting yourself on the back for being able to do 5 things at once. Turns out, if you keep that up, there’s a price to be paid somewhere. So, the good news is, we only have to focus on the task at hand! We already know we have to deal with the interruptions, such as phone calls, etc. However, those aren’t the only interruptions! Being present will make you aware of how much all your inner distractions hinder you. Daydreaming about your goals whenever you feel like it, or constantly worrying about all the other things you need to work on, or when you keep reminding yourself everyone you have to call – your mind can’t be fully present in the work task you’re involved in right now.
  • Schedule your day, even re-visit it at lunch time. But then don’t think about your entire agenda for the rest of the day. Thinking about defrosting your chicken for dinner while writing your client proposal is only going to increase your stress and lengthen the time you work on the proposal.
  • When you do a work task, focus. Let your mind be there, doing what you’re doing. If you need a break, drink some water, take a deep breath. But stay present to what you are working on. Trust me, it will save you time and energy. There’s a lot online and books you can buy or download on learning to improve in this area. Meditation seems to help a lot of people cultivate focus. Even something like yanking on a colorful wristband to bring your attention back can be helpful.
  • Turns out it’s not just the kids that need to focus. Your phone can handle the world on its own while you get your work done. Repeat after me: One thing at a time.
  1. Set up a system and use it. Truth be told, I love systems. Learning and implementing them. I was a Franklin Covey junkie before the smart phones came out. While the uses have changed, I still get excited by a new planner or if someone sends me an organizing article. Martha Stewart’s line at Staples can brighten my day. So what does this mean? Really, I am in the same position you are. In my personal organization and in organizing my business processes, I still had to put together a system that worked for me through trial and error.
  • Know the goals of your business, the tasks involved. Who will do what? How will you evaluate how effective the processes you’ve put in place are? How much paper is in your business model, how much tech? Do you work best with systems that are creative and colorful or bare bones and black and white?
  • Systems used for office management, time management, billing, etc. run the gamut with successful business owners. From the loving organizing types to the “it gets the job done” aficionados – it’s all good if it works for you. Maybe I’ll post about some systems that I’ve found helpful one day. But there are plenty online and in office supply stores or books on the topic to help you find a system that matches your needs and preferences. Of course, at Adoublem we’re a resource to help you if you need some professional help in setting up efficient processes.
  1. Take a break, enjoy a stretch. This is a tip I’ve been a fan of before it was popular.The Huffington Post wrote an article about the many companies that are now encouraging their employees to do meditation and yoga. The in depth article found here states that a fourth of America’s top employers now offer some form of wellness perk for their employees. This not only helps increase focus (see tip 1) but the stress management allows for greater productivity. If you shop at a Wegmans grocery store, it’s not an uncommon sight to see employees gathered as a group, engaged in a stretching break.
  • Even if you are your company of one – the connection is clear – if you want to be your most productive you will have to get up and take a few breaths, go walk the dog or do a few stretches at your desk. Cognitive neuroscience has shown that your brain will work better, ideas flow easier if you don’t overtax yourself. Ideally take 3-5 minutes per hour for a break.
  • If you’re feeling like you can’t wait to give this a try, here’s a a quick (3 minute) stretch break from Denise Austin that you can do right at your desk:

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