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 … 🙂

Here’s to New Beginnings!

Another Nestockvault-splashing-drink116328w Year has approached, and another thousand of New Year’s resolutions were uttered by millions of lips all over the world. I was one of them: I promised myself to start a blog, write regularly with the intention of motivating me and my future readers to follow the rocky path of self-development.

Will I be successful with my resolution? Time will tell, as time is the main factor to consider upon taking up a resolution. No change happens immediately. Given time and an adequate approach change is nothing more but a logical next step.

New beginnings are tempting, because they offer people a blank slate that is not yet ruined by reality. It is our tabula rasa that is waiting to be filled with our dreams. It gives us motivation and this is why Google Resolution map is so full of wishes, most of them concerned with self-improvement.

So now, at this point, my resolution is pure and unspoiled by further thoughts. My blog will be ideal: educational, thus helpful. I am excited by this idea, and it makes me feel good about myself. I am highly motivated.

But then, there comes the infamous Next Day Syndrome – doubts and many what-ifs. I start to question the sanity of the resolution: it is a huge endeavour after all. What if people will not like it, what if my writing style is unacceptable, what if I will be too cliche instead of being educational, what if I will fail in every possible way? Yes it is natural, and yes that brings us to the next step: acceptance of possible failure, and forthcoming relapses.

Failure is a natural step in development. We fail, we draw conclusions, we avoid past mistakes, we progress. But deeply rooted fear of committing errors exists in most of us, and it very often prevents us from trying out a new idea. People very often and very wrongly associate making mistake with embarrassing themselves. However,  if you look at mistake as another way of acquiring knowledge and experience, it will no longer resemble a nightmare, and you will be able to shake off this devolving fear and get down to work on your resolution.

No matter how big is your target change, you should not be scared of the overall size of it, but rather divide it into many small tasks, and step by step make it happen. However, your resolution cannot be too vague because you will have problems with preparing a schedule for it.

The base of every good resolution is to proceed with it by preparing a good plan. A plan makes your resolution more tangible, hence more manageable. It should contain your aims, deadlines, actions that together will contribute to the fulfillment of the plan. We also ought to include possible problems that we can encounter in order to be aware of them.

Only when our resolution is properly quantified and limited with deadlines, we can advance with its implementation. It is very important that we also invent a system of reward for every step that we manage to complete. Upon completion of this post I already know that I will reward myself with a relaxing cup of coffee over a book that I am currently reading. Since I am a lost cause of a bookworm, I cannot wait to finish and start reading. This thought elevates my motivation, and prevents me from taking any other unnecessary break.

Motivation, being a crucial factor in fulfilling any resolution, is something that we also should monitor regularly. We have to know what keeps us motivated and what decreases our devotion to a task. Keeping track of our progress is extremely healthy for maintaining a high level of commitment to the resolution. Once you start to see progress, you want to progress more and more, you feel excited almost as much as you were at the beginning of your endeavour.

So, without further ado: here’s to new beginnings!