Last week, I offered suggestions for cleaning off and setting up your workspace for National Clean Off Your Desk Day. The next logical step is to improve your workflow, which Wikipedia defines as “The sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.”
“Workflow” sounds rather businessey, but refers to anything any of us need to complete. The term reminds me of water. Water pools but it also moves along, just like work. Water is vital, plentiful and refreshing, but can also overflow and escape. Just like work. Our work needs to flow and move into our life, through our processes, reaching completion and leaving our workspace. Here are four tips to keep your work flowing!
- Clean off Your Desk Day reminds us that a clean desk enhances workflow.
- Your workspace is sacred, with only today’s active work on it.
- Decrease interruptions by keeping your work and its’ necessary resources close. If you repeatedly have to get up and retrieve a resource, move it closer.
- Remove non-work from your workflow, with recycling / shredding / trash nearby.
- Consider your work and know the path it should take, from start to finish.
- Large companies and industries define workflows for different types of jobs, like “idea for article / writer / editor / production.”
- I set up a workspace for a client’s new bookkeeper last week.
- First, we discussed the bookkeeper’s responsibilities and workflow. Her workflow demands efficiency, since she’ll be in the office only a few hours a week.
- It begins with sorting all mail into three piles, per the three different business entities she will manage. From there, the bookkeeping process is the same, regardless of which entity she is working on. Open mail; sort into payables, receivables, other work, items to delegate, shred/recycle, etc; do actual bookkeeping; write checks; send checks to manager for clearance and signatures; mail payments and file the rest. Done!
- Eliminate or delegate what you can.
- What is waiting for someone else’s input? Send that work on, so that other person can get work completed, too.
- What work can be delegated or deleted from the stream all together?
- Eliminate redundant steps. Years ago, I paid our personal bills and then my CPA husband would take all the information and enter it into Quicken. He now does it all, cutting the work in half.
- Workflow definitions often look at processes, not actual work items, but let’s face it, paper and work are usually synonymous. My first suggestion to paper management clients is to eliminate as much new paper as possible. Cancel catalogs, unsubscribe from mailing lists, receive bank statements, subscriptions and newsletters electronically or via email.
- The definition ends with “completion.” Think about what completion really means (satisfied sigh). Now stand up, put away what needs put away, and appreciate that feeling of satisfaction that comes from Completion. Then get back to work!
This is part of the Jan. 17 edition of Colleen CPO's Blog.