How to simplify your workflow and get more done

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Zen sand pattern with stacked stones

As humans, we generally prefer simplicity. We prefer it when our tasks are clear and laid out in front of us, ready to be knocked out during a hard day’s work. Time management for small business owners can be tough to nail down.

Why do we make everything so complicated for ourselves, then? In general, we are not very good at simplifying. We look for ways to advance without realizing that the real way to get ahead is to make ourselves more productive.

The most simple way to demonstrate how simplicity could affect our day-to-day lives is by critically examining our workflows. It is perhaps the easy way to spot inefficiencies and find ways to improve our work lives.

The truth is that most of us could take a look at our daily workflows and see simple changes that we could make to improve.

Simplify your vision

If the work itself is too complicated, perhaps you are started from a place of complexity. True leadership comes from your ability to translate a vision into reality and to effectively pursue the tasks that bring you to that vision.

A lack of clear goals and vision will have you scrambling in all sorts of directions without ever getting to where you want to be.

Start by asking yourself some fundamental questions:

  • What is my vision?
  • Do I really have a vision?
  • What do I really want from my business?
  • What is the simplest way to get there?

You’ll find that when you start to break your vision down to some fundamental components, the workflows that you should be engaging in each day become more clear. You can stop chasing things that will have lesser impact on your business.

Know your hurdles

With that clear vision in mind, you can start to examine some of the reasons why you have been unsuccessful in the past and take steps to reduce the effect of those issues.

Everyone has issues that kill productivity in the workplace. According to Pulp PR infographic “Productivity Killers at the Workplace,” the four biggest productivity killers in your average office are:

  • Surfing the internet
  • Email
  • Meetings and conference calls
  • Commuting to and from work

Sound familiar? Chances are, at least one of these inclusions in the infographic is a major hurdle in your average workday. How can you ensure that these hurdles, if not fully eliminated, play a smaller role in your life and give you a greater chance to lasting success?

Whether or not these common distractions apply to you, there are surely some distractions that do. What is it that puts you in a bad mind-space? What keeps you from working to your full potential? Admitting in the first step, they say.

Take the question marks out of your day

If you listen to interviews, podcasts, or read articles from extremely successful people, you’ll probably start to notice a trend. I certainly have.

Successful people build their days and their lives around routines. They take the question marks out of their day and make it easy for them to go on autopilot.

Although there will always be distractions and diversions that hold you back from reaching true peak performance, having a morning, mid-day, and afternoon routine that you can squeeze in around the phone calls, meetings, and water cooler conversations.

Routines give us the ability to go on auto-pilot, following repeatable processes that keep us productive, even when we are mentally checked out – and even the most diligent of workers can not be on the ball all of the time.

Implement a routine, but keep in mind that a stringent routine will become its own distraction. Find routines that fit well into your current workday, or routines that can be picked up and dropped with little preparation.

Simplicity is a long-term goal

You won’t wake up tomorrow with a simple workflow that blows your co-workers away and makes you a changed (wo)man.

Like anything in life, learning new habits and removing old, bad ones takes time and a concerted effort. Start small. Examine your vision. Learn what things inhibit you the most. Create routines to fill in the gaps in your day when you otherwise may fall into distraction.

By accepting that the road to simplicity will be a long one, you position yourself to make the small changes that together, amount to large-scale improvements in your work life.

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