Unlocking the Power of Workflows

Your to-do record is surprisingly deceptive. Right here’s why.

A colleague and I had been lately planning a piece journey. For transportation, there have been two choices: a flight or a practice journey. The flight was two hours and the practice journey, 4. Deciding based mostly on practicality, moderately than practice nostalgia, most individuals would select the airplane.

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However then once more, there are considerably fewer steps to the practice journey. It’s:

— Drive to the practice station

— Park

— Board practice

— Practice journey

— Arrival

The flight, then again, appears to be like one thing like this:

— Drive to the airport

— Park

— Trip airtrain to terminal

— Test in

— Undergo safety

— Look ahead to an hour close to the gate

— Board airplane

— Flight

— Arrival

Ultimately, that two-hour flight would have required extra time, to not point out, created extra stress. My Jotform colleague and I sprung for the practice.

At work, lots of the gadgets on our to-do record are likewise deceptive. A seemingly easy job, like “ship an e mail to Alex,” the truth is is a collection of discrete steps, or what I name a “workflow.” Once we fail to acknowledge the steps that underlie a job, we find yourself spending far more time than anticipated, getting annoyed, and shedding motivation to deal with extra significant work. However after we determine workflows and automate as many steps as potential, we have now extra time to dedicate to the large stuff.

In my new e book, Automate Your Busywork, I write about harnessing the ability of workflows. Earlier than we dig into the advantages, let’s take a better have a look at the most typical forms of workflows.

Frequent workflows and examples

Each workflow has 4 elements: set off, steps, outcomes, end result. Many workflows are linear. They unfold in a straight line, like touring from Level A to Level B. If I’m taking the practice from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the practice stops in San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, and Van Nuys. As soon as I board the practice (the set off), there are not any detours—I do know precisely the place I’m going and when/the place I’ll arrive (the result).

Different workflows are non-linear, that means there are branches and dependencies. If I need to take a look at the Rosicrucian Museum or Municipal Rose Backyard, I’d hop off the practice in San Jose. These are the dependencies that may affect the result (the character of the journey and after I arrive).


Some workflows are loops, that means that the top of the workflow can be the set off to start the method once more. Let’s say you’ve got a weekly e mail advertising and marketing marketing campaign. As quickly as you schedule the publication for one week, you’re again to the drafting board, drafting the content material for the next week.

And at last, there are parallel workflows—a number of steps occurring concurrently. For instance, if a number of groups are collaborating on a product launch, the design group is growing the product’s look whereas the advertising and marketing group is hammering out the execution particulars.

Getting accustomed to the assorted forms of workflows will allow you to to determine and use them to your benefit.

The perks of working with workflows

The “interconnected” facet of a workflow is vital as a result of it captures the truth that the entire steps are depending on one another—overlook one and the entire course of is thrown off. Say you’re making scrambled eggs. For those who skip cracking the shells or beating the eggs, the recipe is ruined.

Understanding the character of workflows and breaking them down into steps has a number of advantages.


1. Obviates the necessity for motivation

Once you map out the total means of a job prematurely, you’re now not deciding whether or not to do one thing, looking for motivation, or questioning what to do subsequent. When the set off occurs, the workflow units in movement.

For instance, for the longest time, I needed to decide to exercising earlier than work. However each morning, when my alarm went off, I’d lie in mattress questioning if I ought to go seek for my health club garments or sleep a bit of longer. And even when I discovered the motivation to get away from bed, if one impediment arose—if I forgot to purchase espresso or couldn’t discover my trainers—I took it as an indication to attempt once more tomorrow.

Someday, I mapped out train like a workflow:

  • Dress in health club garments.
  • Submit to non-public coach for one hour of torture train.
  • Bathe and costume for work.
  • Get a cup of espresso and sit at desk.

I additionally mapped out the night-before steps, like cleansing my health club garments and making ready the espresso machine. From that time ahead, when my alarm went off, there was no deliberation or second-guessing—I simply ran by means of the workflow and didn’t fear about obstacles.

It’s a easy instance, however it demonstrates the logic of the workflow. What’s extra, as soon as the workflow is in place, it will get simpler with time. Just like the Pavlov impact, as quickly because the set off occurs, the steps kick off.

2. Exploring your workflows can spotlight flaws

One other good thing about mapping out a workflow is that it offers you the prospect to see the place issues are inclined to go awry.

Say you’ve got a weekly publication and aren’t getting as many sign-ups as you had hoped. By taking the time to interrupt down the method into steps, you may understand that you just missed the sign-up button within the publication itself; otherwise you forgot to incorporate the essential “affirm subscription” step.

Generally, it’s vital to decelerate and study our processes. However you’ll get again all that point (and extra) as soon as your workflow is up and working easily.

3. Exploring your workflows can illuminate alternatives for automation

Lastly, workflows will help us to identify steps which can be candidates for automation.

In my e book, I shared an instance a few buddy. On a typical day, he’d get requests, principally questions from his group, by way of all platforms: e mail, texts, prompt messages, and infrequently, a telephone name. After 15 years within the enterprise, lots of the questions concerned patterns that my buddy had seen time and again. So I used to be stunned to study that my buddy didn’t have a single template for any of his solutions.

With some effort and time, my buddy examined the related workflows and created these templates. Then, he was in a position to remove the necessity to present considerate responses to lots of of those questions, finally shaving a ton of day off his each day busywork.There are fairly a number of workflow automation instruments on the market. Some that stand out are Zapier and its skill to attach numerous apps, HubSpot’s advertising and marketing automation software program, and Jotform’s highly effective kinds to lower busywork.

Ultimate ideas

We regularly fail to grasp the construction of our workflows, and why remoted duties find yourself taking extra time than we estimate; why the airplane looks like a sensible thought however finally leaves us drained and frazzled on the vacation spot.

Understanding workflows will help you create affordable time expectations to your each day journey. It may additionally allow you to determine which steps could be fastened or automated.

The aim of all that is to allow you to spend much less time on busywork and extra time on extra significant actions—the stuff that leaves you feeling engaged and impressed. And as soon as your workflows are in place and also you’re in a position to focus extra on that large stuff, it’s a self-propelling wheel. Your work feels extra significant and also you’re impressed to maintain creating workflows and automating as a lot as potential.

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