5 Tips for a Better Workflow

Posted by Matt Milburn on 08/16/2011

Clients are generally happier when you deliver a project to them fashionably on time and in the highest quality. Sometimes your list of projects and other tasks can become overwhelming and interruptive requests can break your flow, causing you to lose your pace. These interruptions may snowball into missed deadlines and late nights and could have been avoided with proper planning. Here are five simple tips to help prevent this from happening to you:

  1. Don't let minor requests break your flow

    If it can wait and you're busy, save those things for later. In fact, wait until you receive a few of them and then do them all together. The phrase, "Thank you, I'll make sure to have that for you before 1pm today" is as complicated as you need to make your response when approached with these requests. Or if you can, save them for the last hour of your day. Doing this not only helps you maintain a steady focus on your work, but it can give a sense of closure to your work day if you make a habit of it.

  2. Communicate quickly and openly

    Don't sit on emails for several hours or wait till the end of the day to call someone back. You can save these things for times in your day when you give yourself a break from your projects. The faster you respond to someone's message, the faster they can get what they need and the faster you can get back to your main focus for the day.

  3. Keep a list

    Every time I'm given a new project or small task, that project is stored in Basecamp and shared with the team, but I add it to my own personal to-do list as well. You can use anything that works for you to keep a personal list. I use a combination of dashboard sticky notes and a very neat application called Wunderlist. That small amount of extra time spent staying organized can save you a lot of pain and frustration in the future.

  4. Diminish distractions

    Listen to music, close your chat programs, put your phone on silent, or just shut the door. Even little interruptions can completely derail your concentration and add time to your work.

  5. Never make exceptions for poor quality

    Don't you dare! Once you start cutting the wrong corners and sliding down a slippery slope of lazy excuses to not do a good job, you start losing credibility for you and your work. You may sometimes get away with it but it will catch up to you in the end with unwanted results. You may even have to go back and do more work than you would have in the first place.

If you can make habits of these five things, you will definitely see an increase in your productivity and your overall quality of work. Remember to always be flexible and try new things. Don't just do the same thing all of the time. The world is in perpetual movement and if you stay still, you will get left behind.