Shark Tank. The Biggest Loser. America’s Got Talent.
These TV shows have one purpose for their respective audiences: to inspire. If you’re the kind of person who follows Mark Cuban on LinkedIn and shares inspirational quote photos to your Instagram Story, you might also be the type of person to appreciate old-fashioned motivation and tips to keep your life on track. To follow the theme of self-care for Community Manager Advancement Day, let’s talk about how keeping organized and creating a workflow can be part of your self-care strategy!
What does Organize your Workflow mean?
While you might think you have everything under control, chances are you could benefit from help organizing your workflow. But before we dive into useful tips to do just that, let’s explore what a workflow is and looks like.
Your workflow is the organizational patterns and processes you give yourself in order to be most efficient in your personal and professional life, thereby increasing your productivity.
A typical workflow should consist of a well-thought-out schedule with finite start and end times for your most important or pressing tasks, assignments, and appointments. Another way to think of your workflow is an amalgamation of smaller routines tightly packaged into one larger routine.
If the concept of organizing your daily tasks into a full-blown workflow makes you anxious, we’re here to help with some easy-to-follow habits to put you on track. Here’s 4 habits to help you organize your workflow:
1. Declutter your workspace
The space in which you work impacts your workflow more than anything else. Some people work well with organized chaos, but most people benefit from strict organization and cleanliness, which go hand-in-hand.
File away frivolity
If you’re guilty of keeping stacks of papers that could probably be thrown away, filed into folders, or digitized, this is your first place to start. Some people enjoy printing receipts or emails to take on the go or pin onto a nearby corkboard for more immediate visibility, but sometimes digital documentation is better. If it can be saved online, it should be. Instead of wasting paper and cluttering your desk, look into going digital and getting rid of unnecessary paper documents. If you have sensitive information on your printed documents and are worried about proper disposal (and don’t trust a standard paper shredder), you can opt to use document destruction service providers who will mass-shred sensitive documents for a nominal fee.
Throw away garbage
Say you enjoy having a fancy latte in the morning or piping-hot takeout for lunch while you work, but you’re a bit slow to clean up after your meal is over. Get rid of any trash laying about, whether it’s a half-eaten container of lo mein or a pile of tissues after a sneezing fit. Not only will you feel better having a clean workspace, but you’ll also be more sanitary and less likely to accidentally spill day-old food or coffee on important documents – or worse – expensive electronics.
2. Set a routine and actually stick to it
Your workflow can be strictly work-related, or you can expand further and make it a full lifestyle change. If you choose the latter, this means your daily workflow should start from the moment you awake in the morning to the time you go to sleep for the evening. So make sure you’re using the right kind of productivity tools to set a routine you’ll actually adhere to.
Two ways to stick to a routine are using alarms and setting calendar reminders that are synced to your phone or smartwatch. If you have specific time constraints or deadlines, a good habit to undertake is the practice of time batching.
Time blocking is as straightforward as it sounds: block off time in your schedule that is specifically for certain tasks so that you do not overbook yourself and so you can keep yourself accountable for accomplishing things you set yourself up to do. It’s important to keep some blocks of time open to prioritize your mental health and wellness so that you don’t become overwhelmed.
The image above shows one day in a calendar that is time blocked (with some gaps in between to give yourself a small mental recharge), and the next day with no time blocking whatsoever. Which day do you think will be more organized and productive? It’s likely the left, but every person differs.
Plus, prioritizing your work like time blocking does can help you do what’s most important first without skipping the most crucial to-dos. Even if it’s unintentional, you might forget to do something with a tighter timeline than something less pressing (like responding to a sales pitch email).
3. Write (or type) everything down
Whether you’re the kind of person who takes strictly digitized notes via note-taking software like One Note or Evernote or you prefer keeping all of your notes in a handheld journal, it’s important to write things down. You might have a sharp mind, but it’s unlikely that you’ll remember every detail of a client phone call
4. Use automation to your advantage
Many aspects of our lives are already automated to the point we don’t even acknowledge automation anymore (e.g. using your GPS when you drive or making a cup of coffee on your Keurig). But there are some more innovative forms of automation that might not come to mind off the bat.
If you write as a living, whether for your own website or that of a company, you might be using some form of marketing automation software, like a content management system (CMS). Regardless, automation is everywhere and should be used for its intended purpose: to make your life easier.
Many people have a “I can do it myself” attitude that can be more of a detriment than a benefit. If automation software can provide some relief to your workflow, there’s absolutely no reason not to use it to your advantage.
A proper workflow is a happy workflow
The hardest part of getting yourself into any habit is the start. Once you work on creating a workflow, you’ll be able to alter it to get into a comfort zone that works for your needs. Without a workflow, you may be more susceptible to missed tasks, late assignments, and increased levels of stress.
So save yourself the hassle of dreading your day-to-day by creating a proper workflow. Your schedule and sanity will thank you.