Improvising Workflow

Improvising your workflow

Calculator WorkWhen you get comfortable in an occupation you begin to develop a unique way of getting things done. Through trial and error and experience you develop a workflow which makes your work easier and makes you more productive. Part of this development of efficiency involves identifying the best tools for different jobs, learning how long certain tasks will take or even how best to interact with different people. The problem, however is that many times our ideal workflow is interrupted and we have to improvise to get things done.

Plan BAs a website developer and graphic artist I use tools such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator all the time. I am accustomed to the software so it is easy for me to use. It also produces work that can easily be transferred to the desired medium whether online or in print. However, there are occasionally times when I have to work without my preferred tools and I am forced to use alternatives which are not as well suited for the job.  Here are a few reasons that we may be forced to improvise our workflow:

  • The tools that we are accustomed to are not available
  • The customer insists on using a specific tool or system
  • Our current workflow is incompatible with the job at hand
  • The scope or budget of the project does not justify the time and effort of using the normal workflow

Tools MiningIt is easy to refuse to change our workflow and there are some situations when this is an appropriate response – if a specific change will adversely affect the quality of the job and in turn misrepresent the quality of your brand for instance. There are  situations, on the other hand, when we need to adapt and do the job regardless of the situation not being ideal. When I am working out of the office I am at the mercy of the whichever internet connection I end up using. If it is not as fast as I am accustomed to I have to adjust and find a way to get things done. I may do more graphic designs than website work to compensate for the poor internet access. Improvising is a way of staying productive when conditions

Sooner or later there will come a time when we have to improvise on the job. It may be an uncomfortable situation and an unwelcome change. Being able to adapt to different situations can help us through these stressful periods though. Try using an alternative tool in a non-critical situation to get familiar with it in case you have to use it some day. Practice operating in less than ideal conditions to learn how to react with both the conditions and the emotional impact it has on you. Practising how to improvise will help to make it second nature when it is really needed.

Changing Workflow

Increasing productivity by changing workflow

Plan AheadOften it is not just what we do that makes us efficient but how we do it. Automation revolutionized factory work because machines could do the same jobs of humans quicker and more reliably. Humans  do not need to be replaced by machines to improve efficiency though. By simply tweaking our workflow we can become more productive and make our jobs less stressful. Here are a few tips for improving your workflow.

1. Plan Ahead

Preparation is an important yet often overlooked factor in improving  workflow. Having a plan allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. You can plan how your work should be done as well as create contingency plans for the many times things do not go as planned. This preparation can increase confidence and save time in the long run because you are not simply responding to situations that were never considered before.

2. Change the order in which you do tasks

A simple change in the order in which tasks are performed can increase both productivity and job satisfaction. Generating complex weekly reports on Friday afternoon may seem logical but Friday afternoons may not be the time that you are at your productive peak. Generating the reports in the morning and doing less challenging tasks in the afternoon may put you in a better mood for the weekend and allow you to use your time more effectively.

3. Keep track of accomplishments

It is easy to get discouraged and forget the many tasks that you have accomplished. A simple checklist or some other form of documentation can help you in down times to recognize exactly how valuable your contributions are. Keeping tabs of the tasks you accomplish and when they are completed can also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you can modify your workflow accordingly.

4. Collaborate

As comfortable as you may be working alone it often requires a diverse team to achieve goals. Every team member has a specialty and different point of view. These resources in addition to the time that more people can put into a project makes collaboration an important tool which affects workflow.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but can be a good start for increasing your productivity and becoming more efficient at your job. Changing your workflow may also affect your mood and your attitude so there are also personal benefits to improving the way you do regular tasks.