5 Secrets of Improving Your Work Flow

stockvault-pen-on-diagram103903Being an effective person usually means being able to do many different chores simultaneously in very little time. However, many people, including researchers, believe that multitasking is a myth.

Adam Gazzaley a professor of neurology form the University of California claims that human brain is extremely sensitive to external stimuli, and is able to cope with such interruptions only to a limited extent. Every little distraction (phone call, sudden loud noise, etc.) overloads and resets our brain which has to work hard to recover rapidly all the data necessary for the completion of the task we were working on.

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‘Just one more wall post…’

At the same time, people are not able to resist “friendly nudges,” as Professor Gazzaley calls them. Most of us do not switch our phones off when working on something important. Not only that; we tend to answer it every time it calls, diminishing our mental capability to finish what we started. However, nowadays it is not phone calls as much as social media that is most threatening to our brain proper functioning. According to Nucleus Research, 77% of employees use Facebook during work hours which decreases work productivity by 1.5%.

Interrupting your own work flow is like shooting into your own team’s goalpost. You use more energy upon finishing any task which makes you tired quicker than normally. You are more easily distracted which again leads to loads of errors, frustration and general hatred directed at your work, work mates and quite possibly your boss – the usual reason for all world’s evilness.

So, is there any way that you can keep your work flow going smoothly without having to resign from every pleasurable parts of your working time?

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Perfect Timing – the Key to Success

The secret of smooth, efficient performance is strict time management and self-control. The very first step is to organise your duties according to their relevance. Here, with help and advice comes Stephen Covey with his 4 Quadrants of Time Management, starting with the explanation that the real “challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.” The key to success is strong will power to proceed according to what we planned.

To make a perfect plan, we should divide our tasks into urgent and important. Very often if something is urgent it is not important, like a phone call or a colleague who wants our opinion or help. In certain situations, when our work flow is in danger we have to learn to say ‘not right now.’

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Change Your Aim

Obviously never answering the phone or being too assertive towards your work mates is not a good plan for business development nor for working relationships, but we have to be conscious that these actions are only a reaction to a present pressing matter. Being efficient is by all means not living in a moment; it is all about Prevention and Preparation, which combined eliminate Urgent. Too often we tend to procrastinate if we come across a matter that is important but has extended deadline, instead of including it into our schedule and work on it step by step.

Thinking in perspective enables to see probable obstacles and to create an emergency plan for them. In the long run, it avoids us to make unnecessary mistakes, which disrupts our work flow and even sometimes forces us to take a step back.

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A Proper System of Reward

A schedule is another important efficiency enhancer. If we prioritise our goals into short and long-term, organise our work day, we feel more secure, our intentions are more flesh-and-blood, and we can tackle them one by one. Crossing out accomplished tasks gives us warm feeling of reward, and motivates us to do more.

But why not take the reward further? I say, do a task and take five to charge your batteries. In this short period of time you can visit Facebook, have a chat with a colleague or just eat some snack. It is important that the break is long enough to get you relaxed but short enough not to make you disconnected from your working mode.

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Order Outside, Order Inside

To be organized means to have everything under control. Everything includes your working environment which should reflect your inner order. Clean desk, neatly organized files, both in your filing cabinet and in your computer, not only make you work faster, but also create an aura of being in control which increases your self-assurance, making you eager to achieve as much as you can in order to prove yourself.

To be effective, you have to learn how. It is more time-consuming at first, but it brings many incentives. You have to learn how to organise your schedule in a way that is helpful to you, hence you need to experiment a bit. Remember that your planning kit should be your servant and it is not you who should adapt to it. A schedule tailored to your needs, self-control and harnessed time management with time will make you feel balanced with your workload, help making value-based decisions, and enhance opportunity-minded rather than problem-minded way of thinking.

Dear Reader, I am sure that you already have many other ways of coping with time management and work efficiency. Would you like to share your secrets of your perfect working day? Or maybe your system of reward is worth mentioning … 🙂

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4 thoughts on “5 Secrets of Improving Your Work Flow

    • Thank you for sharing, Aniela. You are right, open space offices are very distinctive, and often it is extremely hard to focus in such an environment. But I think those tips are very much if not more applicable also to this specific office type. I know it is harder to be isolated and focused entirely on your tasks while you have working noise all around you. But other than that, I think it is very much similar surrounding to any other working one.

      Could you please specify which points according to you are impossible to follow by open space workers? Maybe I need more research and another post adapted to this particular topic 🙂 moreover, I promise you proper research and a post on how to cope with working noise! Thank you for inspiration!

  1. It’s not about me, but working in the open space my husband finds the ‘silent hours’ most effective. Headphones on plus the note “do not interrupt from 10:00 till 1:00, unless a bomb alarm”. And a special look on his face also scares people off if they don’t have sth really important to tell him 🙂

    • The idea of Silent Hours is a very good way of improving overall efficiency of the workers. However, taking into account the fact that not everybody can work efficiently during this appointed in advance time, I find your husband’s strategy extremely useful. Using assertiveness, making people judge and reflect back on the importance of their message is a really good move for one working in the open space office. It gives space for both cooperation between workers and respect for a personal working routine.

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