It’s not always easy to be as productive as we want to be. We get bogged down by process and inefficient habits and just life in general.
But there’s no time like the present to clear out clutter that’s holding you back from being your most productive self.
Here are 6 tips to get you started:
1) Update your passwords. Better yet, decide on a password management solution.
Good password habits are something you want to build into your workflows sooner rather than later.
If you’re worried that creating different passwords for different accounts will slow you down, then you’re the perfect candidate for a password management tool. I use LastPass. It securely stores all my different account passwords under one master account. Others password management tools – like OnePassword – do essentially the same thing.
2) Spend 10 minutes auditing your current workflows for time leaks.
Workflows are like a car or anything else that requires upkeep – they need regular maintenance. Just like you wouldn’t ignore an oil leak, you don't want to ignore time leaks that could hurt your workflows over time.
Seth Godin shares an easy jumping point for starting a workflow audit. He advises to simply ask:
“What are 5 ways I can save an hour a day?”
I like this approach because it gives you structure (“What are 5 ways…”) and a measurable goal (“... I can save 1 hour a day”).
3) Test your time management skills.
A friend of mine recently shared insight from a management training he’d attended. He said that while he'd learned a lot, the thing he valued most was a simple exercise. It went a little something like this:
Everyone in the room was instructed to close their eyes and open them when they felt like a minute had passed. No one was allowed to count seconds in their head. Very few people opened their eyes at or even near the 60-second mark. Instead, the majority of people fell about 30 seconds short or long of a minute.
The key takeaway highlighted here is that not all people perceive time in the same way. Some of us naturally measure minutes a little faster or slower than others, even though the clock's ticking at the same rate. Go ahead and try the exercise yourself to figure out where you fall on the spectrum. This can be a great way learn more about how you perceive time. This awareness can help you create better workflows in the future.
4) Connect different workflow services.
One of my favorite ways to improve a workflow is to take two separate services and connect them. That can mean turning on an integration, enabling an extension, or using a service to connect services for me.
IFTTT and Zapier are two great examples of services that connect two different things with an amazingly positive effect. IFTTT uses “recipes” to connect apps. For example, you can set a recipe that saves your voicemails to your Evernote account.
Zapier is a more robust service that partners applications to make them work together. The Zapbook has the full list of their pairings known as “zaps” They also have the option to create multi-step zaps for workflows which is perfect for more complicated processes.
5) Review which workflows are actually working for you.
Given that productivity hacks are a dime a dozen these days, it’s easy to get caught up in the mess of “being productive” without actually producing. So instead of hunting for the next big workflow secret, seize the opportunity to learn from successful workflows that are right under your nose.
Start by singling out workflows that have functioned well for you. Next, list 2-3 reasons why you think they're working. Is the mode of communicating information clearer? Are you using specialized services? Acknowledging workflow victories will help you suss out successful patterns y use in your future workflows.
6) Postmortem your ineffective workflows.
Postmortems are something we do a lot at HelloSign. If you’re unfamiliar with them, a postmortem is a huddle held at the end of a project or campaign. The goal of these meetings is to take an objective look at what went well and what didn’t go so well. Key learnings from postmortems can be used for future projects.
Postmortems present an amazing opportunity to ask questions like, “What didn't "x" work? What would we do differently?” Digging into the “whys” behind an ineffective workflow pushes you to think critically about improvements you can make next time.
Over to you, what’s your favorite way to clean up your workflows?
We'd love to hear your favorite workflow tips! How do you keep your workflows clean?