April 2nd, 2014

Workflow Management: Tips to Avoid the Overflow

Thanks to technology, workflow management is now more transparent than ever. The most effective project management systems have crystal clear metrics for tracking the time it takes to complete each task. If one person is clogging up the production line, it’s apparent to everyone on the project. This level of transparency, while incredibly useful to project managers, can cause individuals to feel overwhelmed when workload is especially heavy. Use the following tips to turn projected end dates into actual end dates and avoid the occasional workflow overflow.

Follow the 80/20 Rule

This might not apply to every situation, but it works for most: don’t seek 100 percent perfection. By sending things back for multiple revisions, you’re clogging up the production line and hindering productivity. Once you’ve completed 80 percent of a task, the remaining 20 percent becomes less critical to the overall ROI. The same rule applies to business intelligence: you can glean the same information by analyzing 80 percent of the data as you would by analyzing 100 percent of the data. Now, for some products or services, you can’t settle for mediocrity. But for the majority of your day-to-day tasks, and for the sake of getting things done, 80 is enough!

Prioritize your to-do list

On an average day, you have two basic types of tasks on your to-do list: the small, trivial tasks that seem urgent but contribute very little to long term success; and larger, more significant tasks that add value and contribute to long term success. The problem is, the small, trivial tasks are the ones that nag at you the most and weigh heavily on your conscience. The emails in your inbox waiting for a response, the paperwork you need to submit…it’s tempting to start working on these first thing just to feel the satisfaction of crossing them off your list. But before you know it, it’s 3 p.m. and you haven’t done anything meaningful all day. Start working on the significant tasks first, and after you’ve crossed one off the list, allow yourself to answer emails and knock out smaller tasks. This will ensure you contribute something to your long term success every day.

When you complete 80% of a task, the remaining 20% becomes less critical to the overall #ROI. Follow the #8020Rule: http://ajilon.co/PiVHyA
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Trust and Delegate

Allow yourself to trust your team and delegate tasks when possible. Delegation can save you a tremendous amount of time, and the display of trust is an added morale-booster for the whole team. If you delegate a task and the outcome is inadequate, invest a little extra time explaining to your coworker how they can improve the next time. The more you delegate, the sooner you will realize the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, which will prove useful in the future. 

Turn down meetings

Depending on your organization’s culture, you may feel pressure to show up for every single meeting. But we all know that meetings come built-in with arbitrary small talk, and just because your name is on the calendar invite doesn’t mean your attendance is critical. Also, how many minutes have you wasted troubleshooting a connectivity issue or dealing with conference call confusion at the beginning of a meeting? If you can get the scoop from a coworker later, skip the meeting and spend that time at your desk, where you can actually accomplish something.



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