Many of us work best when we are able to concentrate solely on one task and get into a rhythm. Distractions, interruptions and bottlenecks can all make us less productive by affecting our flow. By being forced to stop a task and come back to it, we can end up taking a lot more time to then complete that task – not only is the task delayed, but we have to spend extra time refamiliarizing ourselves with it.
Just like a car that is constantly having to stop at lights or take detours, the journey takes much longer.
Finding ways to improve our workflow can help us to get more done in less time. Not only that, but it can also reduce errors – every time our flow is interrupted and we have to go back on ourselves, there’s a chance that we’ll forget important information that we didn’t write down at the time.
There are lots of ways in which you can improve your workflow. Below are just a few tips for improving your flow.
Schedule Out Each Day Carefully
There are often events throughout our day that we can prepare for. Scheduling out each day carefully can make these events less of an interruption. For instance, you may have a meeting at midday or you may be expecting a delivery at a certain time in the afternoon – by scheduling tasks around these events, you can make sure that these tasks aren’t interrupted.
If there’s a period of the day when you tend to get more phone calls or there are more distractions, consider scheduling tasks for this period that don’t require too much focus such as tidying your office or checking your mail. Alternatively, you could use this period of time for tackling various micro-tasks that you’ve been putting off such as ordering new printer ink, chasing up late paying customers or updating software.
Work From the Right Location
Certain locations are likely to be full of distractions that could negatively impact your workflow. When it comes to tasks that require intense concentration, you should consider locations that are likely to have the least distractions at a certain time.
Working from home could be perfect if you’ve got your own office you can escape to or if the kids are at school. However, if this isn’t the case, you might find that you’re more productive working somewhere out of the house such as a rented office, a coffee bar or even a library.
Optimize Your Workspace
You can also improve your workflow by having everything you need in arm’s reach while you work and by keeping it organized. This could include putting a bin under your desk and having a phone in arm’s reach.
Ergonomics is also important – if you start getting uncomfortable you won’t be able to work efficiently. When working at a desk, you should consider the height of your chair, the position of your keyboard and the position of your monitor.
Use the Right Technology
Tech problems can be a huge disruption to your workflow. It’s important that you’re using reliable technology that doesn’t keep cutting out or lagging.
A shaky internet connection for instance could be causing you to work much slower and less productively – you may have to keep stopping to reset the wi-fi router or having to wait for the connection to return. Investing in a strong internet connection with a good range could fix this problem.
You may even be able to arm yourself against big interruptions such as power cuts. A backup generator could allow you to keep working, even when the mains electricity is down.
You can also keep technology from failing by keeping it well-maintained. For instance, cleaning and servicing manufacturing machinery could help to preserve it and prevent major faults down the line – which could serve as a major interruption.
Outsource Interruptive Tasks
Certain tasks cannot be scheduled and will always be an interruption. The most obvious example of this is answering phone calls. If you find that you’re constantly having to abandon tasks to answer the phone, you could consider outsourcing a professional virtual service to answer phone calls for you. These companies can answer general enquiries and sales calls for you, relaying only the most urgent calls to you.
There may be other tasks that you can similarly outsource or delegate in this manner such as answering live chats or even answering emails. Consider the tasks that are a constant interruption for you and whether there is someone out there that you could pay to handle these tasks for you.
Make Use of Automation
Using software and machinery, it’s sometimes possible to automate tasks so that they’re running in the background while you focus on other pressing tasks. Automation can be useful for scheduling tasks such as posting content on social media – you can plan out a week’s social media content in advance and then schedule each piece of content to get posted throughout the week. There are also tasks such as sending order confirmations to customers, paying staff and chasing up late payments from suppliers that can all be automated (so that you don’t have to interrupt other tasks to carry out these tasks). Consider which tasks are often an inconvenience to your day-to-day workflow and consider whether there are tools out there to automate them.
Bottlenecks and periods of downtime can also develop in business if you suddenly run out of funds. For instance, construction companies can often reach a standstill if they run out of funds and are unable to then order new materials.
Always check that you have enough funds ahead to carry out a project. There may be unexpected costs, so make sure that you have immediate access to more funds that is necessary. Having emergency savings set aside or a line of credit set up can give you the option to dip into extra funds if there are costs you hadn’t planned for.