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How to Streamline Just About Anything

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You don’t have time. Even reading this post is something you’re doing because you hope it might save you time later. That’s why I’m going to explain how to streamline just about anything.

Step one for being more efficient is to seek inspiration. The idea for this post comes from a piece by our friends at SpinWeb, 5 Examples of Projects You Should Streamline. Here’s the question(s) they ask:

What are the routine projects that you and your team complete each week, month, quarter? Have you considered the most efficient ways to run them? Would you like to have more time marketing, and less time managing?

The answer to these are: “everything,” “yes-but-I’m-busy,” and “yes, obviously.”

So, how do you streamline projects? Step 2: Checklists. It’s the best way to make everything faster, because checklists mean doing what is said instead of thinking about it every time.

Streamlined

© Flickr user Orin Zebest

Checklists are one of those human inventions that are ridiculously effective and yet consistently undervalued. The benefit of a checklist is that it allows you to focus your brain on doing things that are important and difficult (like solving problems) rather than things that are unimportant and difficult (like remembering details.) That’s why checklists are used in places such as:

  • Airplanes (pre-flight checklists)
  • Health inspectors (safety checklists)
  • New Employee (onboarding checklists)
  • Pre-surgery (patient and provider readiness checklists)

And of course, lots more. If you do it over and over again, you need a checklist.

There are a million ways to create checklists. You can use fancy software or you can use paper and pencil. But the tool you actually use is always best. So whatever checklist system you put into place, as long as things get checked off lists, you’re in good shape.

Doing Work Faster: Sectioning

Once you’ve got a checklist, everything will start moving more quickly because you won’t be second guessing yourself. But there’s more involved in streamlining a process. If you want to make things even faster, the next step is dividing the work into sections.

Puzzle Pieces

© Flickr user Electric-Eye

This is how most people do a jigsaw puzzle. They start by finding all the edge pieces and assembling those. Then, they look for recognizable patterns in the image and try to assemble those. And then they fill in the gaps. This is dividing the work into sections.

We do that when we blog here at AccelaWork. I’m writing this post, but someone else will edit it. And someone else will make sure it gets scheduled. That way, no one person has to worry about multiple steps in the process. And even if they did, those steps are separated.

This has a effect that is comparable to checklists. Since you are only focused on part of the process, you don’t have to think as much. Less thinking equals less time, which makes the whole process more streamlined.

Doing Work Faster: Automation

The last step in streamlining anything is to automate the process. One of the reasons we find difficulty in that is we don’t understand the word automation.

That term comes from “automatic” which means “having the capability of starting, operating, moving, etc., independently.” That doesn’t mean you have to build a robot or write some software. It means you just have to find one.

For example, if there’s a way to do some work now and schedule it later, that’s automation. If you can save a little time by copying and pasting, or by using some text replacement software, that’s automation. If you have an Uber/Lyft driver take you to your next appointment so you can stay on task, that’s automation too (even though the driver isn’t actually a robot.)

So let’s review.

The Checklist for Streamlining

Here you go:

  1. Get inspired
  2. Use checklists
  3. Break work into sections
  4. Leverage automation

That’s it. Make it happen.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter

@robbyslaughter

Troublemaker and productivity/workflow expert. https://t.co/lJk8tIwe9q. Slightly more complex than 140 characters will permit.
To use a word with conviction and honesty, you must know the precise definition of that word. - 2 hours ago
Robby Slaughter
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