A typical eight-hour workday includes about three hours of work spent on personal or unnecessary tasks. Or, to put that another way, every week, 15 hours are wasted on non-productive tasks.
Managing and improving workflow efficiency procedures can help you eliminate these timewasters. However, just be aware that it’s impossible to avoid every delay completely. But, hey. We’ll take what we can.
But, what are some ways you can implement these changes? Below are five workflow improvements to add to your calendar to increase productivity.
How Do Wasted Hours Affect Productivity?
When we spend more time on admin tasks, we lose valuable productivity time. Because of this wasted time, meaningful, project-related work is reduced. What’s more, administration tasks divert attention from more important work. Even worse, when we’re occupied with these tasks, this causes us to focus and drains our energy.
As if that weren’t bad enough, these repetitive and mundane activities aren’t t intellectually stimulating. That might not sound like a biggie. But, that can make you fill unfilled and unsatisfied. Which, of course, will hinder your productivity.
And, if you think that’s tough on you, just imagine what it does to your team if you’re a leader. Just like you, they want to get more done in less time. But, they also want to dedicate their time and energy to be productive, not just busy.
Basically, all of these wasted hours significantly impact a company’s productivity. So, from the top-down, everyone will be more productive if they invest more time in project-related work. And when everyone’s engaged, this leads to greater satisfaction and productivity.
Causes of Reduced Workflow Efficiency
Because workflows have many moving parts, a simple change in one part can affect the whole structure and stymie your organizational progress.
Listed below are some causes of slow workflow, both within teams and organizations as a whole.
Tasks that are irrelevant or unproductive.
If your operations change due to internal factors or external circumstances, you might find that some parts of your workflow are no longer necessary.
When these tasks are not removed, they become bottlenecks in your workflow, consuming resources that could have been spent on more productive procedures, and stagnating work in the long run.
Lack of coordination of information.
Every functional workflow relies on information since it facilitates insight into where your work is at, what factors apply, and what steps you need to take to keep delivering results now, and in the future.
Because information flow isn’t managed intelligently in workflows, you and your team members will spend more time locating the relevant information instead of actually getting work done.
Team management is disorganized.
If your team members do not know which part of the workflow they should be working on and have no idea who to consult in case of an issue, a large pool of personnel will go unused.
Five New Workflow Improvements to Add to Your Calendar
In the workplace, unclear and unnecessary tasks are top time-wasters, as are long meetings and unclear assignments. However, these problems can be reduced by putting the proper tools in place.
At the same time, streamlining your workflow procedures doesn’t happen overnight. But it will save you money and time in the long run if you put in the effort today.
But, where do you start when it comes to workflow improvement? Well, the most glaring would be reviewing and analyzing your current workflow. Doing so will help you spot any bottlenecks so that you fix them.
Another obvious suggestion? Leaning on automation tools for recurring and tedious tasks. And, if working with others, you definitely need collaboration tools.
Outside of these noticeable workflow improvements, here are five new ones to focus on.
1. Align Your Most Important Work With Your Chronotype
.“Your chronotype is just a fancy way of saying ‘your body clock,” explains Amantha Imber, founder of behavioral science consultancy Inventium and the host of How I Work. We all follow this natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness. “Everyone has a unique chronotype, and it influences the peaks and troughs of energy we feel throughout our days.”
“Around 10% of people are stereotypical larks, who feel most energetic in the mornings,” explains Imber. “At the other end of the spectrum are the 20% of the population who are owls, or people who do their best work at night.” As a result, we tend to spring into action in the morning, have a power lull after lunch, and end the day with a bang.
You can achieve more by paying attention to your chronotype and planning your priorities around your energy peaks, suggests Dan Pink, author of “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.”
“On days I plan to write, I do it in the mornings, when I’m most alert,” he told Imber. “I set myself a word count, and I won’t do anything until I hit it.” Furthermore, he won’t use his phone in the office or check his email. “Once I’ve hit my goal, I’m free to do other things.” Instead, pink uses his morning energy to focus on his work and avoid distractions.
He tends to stay focused on doable tasks during his afternoon energy slump. For example, he answers emails or files documents.
When you’re most productive, lock in your priorities first in your calendar. Then, after tackling your preferences, you’ll have the momentum and energy to breeze through your remaining responsibilities.
2. Stop Multitasking
“Multitasking is never an efficient way of spending your time, even if it might seem so in the moment, “explains Deanna Ritchie in another Calendar article.
“When we multitask, we rapidly switch between multiple tasks, which expends brainpower, takes energy, and reduces our productivity,’ Deanna explains.
Most people who boast that they can multitask effectively don’t realize that they are actually less efficient at solving many tasks at once than they are at completing one task at a time.
You should ask yourself how efficient you want to be whenever you find yourself wanting to multitask. You should be aware of the time and effort you need to devote to specific tasks. These tasks may require you to take time away from other tasks so you can devote your undivided attention to these tasks.
“When you stop multitasking and begin focusing entirely on a single task at one time, you’ll see your productivity increase,” she adds.
3. Get Organized
In my opinion, this can be a broad workflow as it encompasses both the big and the small.
For example, you could block out 10-minutes at the end of the workday to clean organize your workspace. You could also go through your inbox, update your to-do list, or revise your calendar for the week.
You will see a long-term improvement in your workflow if you eliminate this small amount of clutter.
On the bigger side of organization, you need to establish an effective organizational system. It’s a simple way for you and your team to save time when looking for documents and resources. Moreover, you can keep your team on task by implementing organizational strategies and data management systems.
I would also suggest assigning clear deadlines to both you and your team. Again, this will keep everyone on the same page and prevent hiccups. Ideally, you would use a team calendar so that everyone can view upcoming tasks and projects.
4. Schedule a ShipIt Day
The Atlassian Company developed the concept of letting employees work on any project for 24 hours. Employees become motivated when they have the chance to do something they are passionate about when creativity is encouraged in this way. After completing their task for the day, employees return to work feeling accomplished and motivated.
Even if you aren’t leading a team, you can still apply this concept. For instance, you could schedule a ShipIt on Fridays. Why? Because most of us are spent by the end of the week. And, for some, having a 4-day work week can increase your efficiency and workflow.
5. Keep Calm and Workflow On
It is only possible for your workflows to remain cutting edge if you prioritize analyzing them regularly and finding out what works, what doesn’t, and what to improve.
To achieve workflow efficiency, you must;
- Plan your workflow for manual review,
- Monitor your issue tracking workflows constantly,
- As needed, refine your workflows
- Make sure your workflow can continue to meet your targets by testing and improving.
To get more done with less, it’s easier to eliminate unnecessary steps and focus on what it takes to improve your workflow.
Where does your calendar come into play here? To ensure that you don’t forget to continually review and improve your workflow, add this to your calendar ASAP. How often? That’s up to you. But, for newer workflow improvements, I wouldn’t go more than a month.
However, you can schedule this as a quarterly or annual task in most cases.
Image Credit: Mikhail Nilov; Pexels; Thank you!