Incorporating process and efficiency into your life is just like cooking; finding the perfect recipe, buying and assembling all of the ingredients, utensils, etc., and then approaching the task systematically. According to The Pioneer Woman, a popular food blogger and personal favorite – “Reading the recipe through is especially important if you’re a new cook. Process and technique matter and to successfully execute a dish, it’s important to know what to expect and not miss a step.” (link) The same is true whether you are trying to run your home and family or a successful business because it is all about managing time and resources more efficiently. This is something I have always cared a lot about. Looking back at the jobs I have held over my life, process optimization has been a common thread and I have found that, like a recipe, it helps to know where you are going, but also what the obstacles are along the way so you can strategize and make improvements. As with most things, simple is usually better, and the best plan for optimization usually revolves around getting rid of extra steps, reworking a procedure to reflect natural tendencies, identifying waste, and finding the tasks that don’t add value. All of these are opportunities you can and should cash in on. Understanding the basic building blocks of workflows which include “actions, conditions, and steps” within your own processes and systems can help improve your productivity and efficiency.
There are so many solutions available today. If you are a techy, there is probably an app or a software solution and if you consider yourself somewhere in the middle, you may be willing to find a solution that incorporates some technology, but still includes a manual element. In the end, however you want to do it – the key is to get done sooner than later than and as complete as is necessary, no more, no less.
The best place to start with a process revitalization project is with the basics: making sure everything your business depends upon is easy to do, and nothing is falling through the cracks. This is much simpler than it sounds: a good example is networking which is a cornerstone of building and maintaining a successful business. Exchanging formal business cards is still a staple of business interaction, but the typical exchange can happen quickly and unless you have a photographic memory or are a phone-typing savant (and who is besides your 16 year old), you will likely have to circle back to add that information later. If we are being honest, many people miss this major step and even with best intentions, trying to remember or being organized keeping up with the cards the task often remains undone causing a mad search when looking for it later. This low-level task is ideal for an electronic solution- even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy and there are several apps out there designed to solve this exact problem. Some direct you to take a picture of the card automatically creating a contact with all of the details filled in allowing you to annotate, and even share with others. If you are old-school like me, you would be only too happy to find a better solution to contact information than the old address or business card organizer books of the past! It is such a simple thing, but managing contacts is one of the very foundation tools for success and an improvement will send ripples of efficiency throughout your business. That’s the thing about process optimization. The results are exponential, and therefore exponentially rewarding.