When a customer order is received, businesses tend to have a systematic way they go about fulfilling the order, invoicing the customer and so on. Those who do it well leverage economies of scale, customer satisfaction etc. Applying the same logic, individuals need an efficient workflow when new work they need to action is received ie. what happens next? However, many white-collar workers don’t and this severely impacts their ability to be effective.
A personal workflow is the backbone of your productivity system. If it works well you’ll have time and clarity to focus on what’s important. Conversely, if it’s inadequate you’ll be busy and feel exhausted. This might sound simple, even trivial to some, but the impact an effective personal workflow has on achieving targeted outcomes in massive.
Recently I was in a coaching session with a busy manager who was struggling to keep up with demands. The manager was strong technically in his area of expertise but tended to miss deadlines or forget to action tasks. Some analysis revealed that most of the incoming work was received via email but there wasn’t a systematic way to manage it. We therefore needed to get it under control (storage and retrieval, rules, scheduling, etc). In no time, we had a working system that made sense to how the manager preferred to work. The increased clarity gained was significant which in turn freed up time and energy to focus on proactively anticipating demands.
Still not convinced then this stat might blow your mind: People check their mobile phones an average of 150 times a day (Source: Deloitte Human Capital Trends Study). Wow!!! Think about the negative impact this has on productivity.
Email management and mobile phone behaviours are just 2 examples. There are many more opportunities for white collar workers to claw back time. Those who don’t have an effective personal workflow unnecessarily put themselves under too much stress because they’re working harder to keep up with others. Don’t underestimate the importance of the cadence of an effective workflow.