Processes: An Overlooked Productivity ToolAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
A while ago I wrote about how processes allow you to be more productive, but I think the issue is important enough—and generally ignored enough—to be addressed again with further arguments.
Strategic procedures facilitate—and can even automate—the realization of certain tasks, and that has a lot to do with productivity.
A process is a set of actions already established that are carried out in order to reach a certain end. If you notice, there is a sort of parallelism between this definition and that of a GTD project.
In GTD, a project is any set of actions you need to carry on in order to achieve a result. The difference between a project and a process is that, in a project, the actions aren’t usually established in advance. However, I am sure that if you take a look at your current projects, probably many of them—or parts of them—correspond to things you’ve done before.
There are lots of things you do every day without even thinking. As you have the ability, knowledge and experience necessary to carry them out, you don’t need to describe those jobs.
Surely you hate processes because you think they require more work and are boring. But think about this: Processes provide structure, order and predictability to your work. They make your life easier. They allow you to do things faster. In short, they give you more time and peace. Not bad, right?
If you really care how you spend your greatest asset, your time, it should be your priority to create an environment in which it is easy to define and establish processes for the parts of your work that allow it.
Needless to say, if you work in a team, describing the different work processes appropriately will be a key piece for your team’s productivity. The day a partner is not available, at least you can use the guidelines book.
Do you want to improve your productivity? You need to have the right mindset and to use the right tools. You need to create the right environment. Defining methods to facilitate your work should be always in your mind.
Get used to create processes. Pay attention to every thing you do: action, task or project. Is this the first time you do it? Probably not. What part is repeated? Is it always done the same way? Extract the part that you know, and devote some time to describe the process. Define checklists to describe the details and set routines to automate repetitive tasks.
Do not skimp on applications, tools and utilities that allow you to define processes, to be able to access all information at all times, to automate jobs, to manage projects, to establish repetitive tasks, etc. A few bucks per month can save you many hours of work. How much is your time worth?
To define processes is a work that pays back each time you have to do a similar job: not only do you save time, but you gain some peace of mind knowing that you are going to get it done properly and that you will not forget anything.
Furthermore, having clearly defined procedures allows you to see your work from a different point of view. It allows you to understand and analyze the way you work, and after some time, to optimize and improve it. Sometimes you will wonder: “why I’ve always been doing it this way?” You will see obvious issues that wouldn’t even come to your mind now. You will solve inefficiencies.
The three models of GTD provide you a generic framework for managing your life and your work. Over it, you must define your own processes in order to resolve specific situations.