Whether you are an entrepreneur, manager, freelancer, employee, or consultant, actively focusing on improving your workflow will always be essential to the growth of your career. A reasonable thing to say is that you want to work more effectively. To improve yourself and the outcomes of your work.
So, what exactly does “work more effectively” mean?
Is it just a vague burden that we place on ourselves to be on par with the expectations of our seniors? Not really. It basically means having a more streamlined workflow that will allow you to work faster and more accurately while decreasing your stress levels and time spent on each project – giving you a truly effective approach to work.
Being truly effective at work can pay off now and throughout our careers. Effective workers get exciting projects, win important clients and are well respected by their colleagues and bosses. But how can you become more effective and make sure that you don’t miss out on these great opportunities?
We’ve got you covered!
Follow these five tips I gathered by asking everyone at Markable how they manage multiple projects at once. The answers collected were summarized and grouped accordingly. The results on how to work more effectively were as follows.
1. Reverse planning
Reverse planning or backward planning is a common module of thinking in the military. It was also laid out in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in which he says, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going, so you better understand where you are now. So that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
That’s it. Start with your project’s end-result in mind and work backward in time. Begin by identifying the last step of your project, then the step before it and so on till you get to the step that will start your operation. It simply answers the question of where you want to be at the end of your project.
2. Use technology to your advantage
Ok, we know that tech is everywhere and most of you are trying to stay away from it since you’re constantly checking emails and building fiscal spreadsheets. I understand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t harness the power of technology to further improve your endeavors.
To start with, try using an electronic calendar that is preferably linked to your work email. Common examples are Google Calendar and Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar.
You can benefit from task management applications that can be accessed from your smartphone and PC. Apps like Trello and Asana will help you and your team members stay on track and give you notification reminders for when any task is due, ensuring no deadlines are missed.
3. Visualize your day
Whether you’re in the shower, on the way to work or just getting seated at your desk. Visualize. Paint a picture of how your day should go and what should be accomplished to get there. Visualization activates incredible powers that will motivate you to work harder and more creatively.
You’ll start noticing new levels of motivation and find yourself doing things that you’d usually avoid. The reason for this is that visualizing makes you see the bigger picture. It allows you to foresee every possible scenario and have a contingency plan in case all goes south.
4. Write, write and write
In addition to having your electronic checklist setup, a mock checklist should be written using pen and paper. Using the good old-fashioned way of writing is simply unrivaled. Whenever your pen hits that paper, thousands of neurons are sparked in your brain, allowing you to schedule a complex day more easily.
Furthermore, getting things on paper when having a conversation with a colleague or a client allows you to anchor what is discussed between the parties. Leaving a paper trail is your greatest asset to maintaining communications, decisions, expectations and project requirements as you’ll be able to trace back in your notes and see why and when any changes were made.
You might think this will take too much time, but it’ll only take five to ten minutes of your day. Don’t you believe that five minutes are worth spending in return for a smooth workday or even week? Try this mindful writing technique for only one week. Just a single work week and reach out and tell us about your experience.
5. Communicate clearly
Think about how often we communicate every day. We make phone calls, attend meetings, write emails, give presentations, talk to clients and so on. We can seem to spend all day communicating with the people around us.
That’s why excellent communication skills are essential, especially when your goal is to improve your workflow.
The first step towards refining your communication skills is developing your active listening skills. That means making a specific effort to hearing and understanding what those around you are saying. You’ll be surprised at how much miscommunication will decrease once you start making an effort to listen actively.
Of course, we do a lot more writing than just emails. We write using Instant Messaging, we write reports, and we create presentations. But simply improving your email skills will trickle down to all other areas of your writing skills.
By and large, there are a thousand ways, tips and tricks to be more on top of things and all will work one way or another. It all depends on how you tailor each strategy to suit your personality and work environment.
To summarize the main things; have an end goal in mind, set a visual roadmap, benefit from productivity tools, have a paper trail wherever you go, and always communicate as clearly as possible.
What tips to work more effectively do you use? Is there any tip mentioned that you often use? Leave them in the comments below!