“It’s a new year!” Does that statement provide you with hope or anxiety?
Your answer may depend on how you think you will manage what you anticipate for the coming year; or how you managed things last year. Whichever it is, it likely has something to do with what can be called Workflow Management.
Work. You might get paid to do it; it might be something you do for another reason. Anything that “gets done” is affected by how we manage the elements that go into it. Since it’s the beginning of a new year, let’s use the example of wanting to improve your physical fitness, a common desire for many people at the beginning of a new year (and after holiday feasting).
So, you decide to get a gym membership (and actually go to the gym after enrolling). You are determined to set clear goals and actually stick to them. While there are a variety of approaches you could use, a highly effective one is to start by creating a workflow, a systematic and repeatable set of steps. A big-picture workflow comprised of small, incremental steps can help you more effectively follow-through on any goal you set for yourself or your team.
As the name suggests, a workflow creates a visible path towards achieving a goal. The most helpful workflow methods are comprised of steps that are straightforward and easy to complete. Outlining “sections” and breaking each one into bite-sized chunks makes the end-goal seem less daunting. Thus, you are more likely to take the first step, see progress, and remain motivated because you are not overwhelmed with large, vague, and distant goals.
A sample workflow for following-through on your gym goals could look like this:
While this simple example may seem mundane, the technique easily applies to more complex processes and goals. For example, if you are a consultant looking to increase your number of clients while increasing the efficacy of client meetings, perhaps the following workflow would help you frame the process.
Workflows are also effective for team goal-setting and follow-through. They help you optimize standardized processes and identify & name the myriad simple processes that go into complex and interdependent projects.
Surprises in workflow research include:
· Pay attention to natural rhythms and build them into the flow – daily, weekly, seasonal energy highs and lows, mental and physical breaks, etc. We are designed with innate rhythms; do not ignore them.
· Build in “progress awareness” practices. Celebrate any progress, even small advances and even in small ways.
· Pay attention to which 20% of efforts result in the most beneficial results. Leverage them. Excellence does not come from adding more but from knowing when to stop removing what is unessential.
With this workflow tool in your management kit, start with small and basic essentials. This will instill a mindset, which helps develop a habit, which before the end of 2023 will reveal a transformation!