August 23, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

The Simple Trick To Improving Your Workflow

By Benjamin Brandall

Workflow improvementWhether you’re managing a schedule or organizing your time, there is one simple trick to improve your workflow for any and all tasks.

While working remotely I’ve tested more methods than I can count for boosting productivity. From software to diets to exercise and beyond, there’s one simple trick which has stood the test of time and I would like to share that with you.

You need to be following a process. What are the benefits?

Processes remove uncertainty

First and foremost, when you document workflows in a process you’re removing any uncertainty for the person working through it. As long as you provide ample instructions to go with your back checklist template (enough to tell them what to do and how to do it), there’s next to no reason for them to slow down mid-task in an attempt to remember the next step.

Put it this way; if you’re working through a process from memory you’re largely leaving success to chance. If you want to manage the project effectively, you need to have a reliable way to make sure that no steps are being skipped to maintain a consistent high quality.

Speaking of consistency…

You’ll have a consistent, measurable method

Again, rather than leaving the consistency of your team to chance you’re providing them with explicit instructions which they can easily follow. That means that rather than letting human error into your work and relying on memory, you have a consistent, documented process which is followed every single time you need to complete a particular task.

This same consistency is the only way that you’ll be able to effectively track and compare the results of various projects. If you’re running with a vague, half-solid method then the steps taken will likely vary in some way from one project to the next, making it incredibly difficult to pin down why a particular project succeeded or failed.

In turn, this will make it much harder to replicate your successes and avoid previous failures. Without knowing exactly what method was followed, there’s every possibility that you won’t even know what’s being done wrong.

Documented processes can be optimized

Being able to track your projects as they progress with a consistent method also means that when things go wrong you should be able to trace the fault back to your process. If a deadline is missed or a task not completed satisfactorily, it’ll be because of either a fault in the process or because the person working didn’t follow it.

Once you’ve documented your workflow and created a consistent approach, it’s easy to improve and to avoid disaster in the future.

Optimizing a process is a cinch. All you have to do is sit down with the people who worked through it, talk through their experience with the process, compare that to your results, and then you should be able to identify the section which needs improving.

For example, a particular step in the process could need more detailed instructions, a piece of software may need replacing, and responsibilities may need making clearer to increase accountability.

Documenting your workflows is the best way to improve your productivity and effectively manage your team’s projects efficiently. Whether you documenting processes using a special app or jotting them down in a pen-and-paper file, try it and see for yourself how easy it to improve your workflow.

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About the Author:

Benjamin Brandall is a content marketer at Process Street, where he writes on startups, SaaS, and workflows. In his spare time, he runs Secret Cave, a blog about obscure entertainment and internet culture.

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