It’s time to take your productivity to another level! If you watched my video on the 12 Lists to Make to Organize Your Life then you might have seen me using a lot of “process lists” or “workflows” in my life. I use it not only in my online business, but also in my personal life. This post will teach you everything you need to know about how to use workflows to streamline your life.
These lists help streamline everything, from reminding us of what to pack for a trip to helping doctors perform surgery. They are important for projects to be done efficiently.
But what is a workflow exactly, you ask? The definition of workflow states that it is the sequence of processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. A workflow is basically a set of actions you take, listed out in a sequential and chronological order to help you get stuff done the right way.
Workflows and checklists are so important and effective that even pilots and surgeons use them! Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto, says that checklists help break down complex tasks and also ensure consistency and efficiency. I think if it works so well for all of these professionals then why can’t we use it neither?
Reasons why you should create workflows
- They help you to get things done the right way, every single time. They help make sure no steps are missed
- They help if you work within a team and need someone else to do the work for you. It makes it easier to delegate tasks to others.
- They help you to learn how to automate tasks by shortening or even eliminating some steps in a process.
- They help with decision fatigue. Every time you do a task, you will have clarity on what needs to be done and you won’t have to worry or use any willpower to decide what to do next.
- They help make sure you don’t have to rewrite a set of tasks every time. If you a reusable workflow (like the printable down below) then you can use it multiple time for different events. This is great for packing lists and multiple trips. You can also use it for different YouTube videos you make, or blog posts you write.
- They help you make a habit out of that task. You’ll be so used to doing it through this workflow that it becomes second nature. And because it’s a habit, you will do the task faster.
- They help you waste less time. You won’t waste time thinking about what comes next.
Create your workflows to streamline your tasks
So in our every day life think about all the things that you do constantly, things that you don’t like to do, or things that just take too much time for you to do. By creating workflows you will see all the steps laid out in front you and it will be easier for you to delegate, automate or eliminate it.
Some of the workflows I use are for blogging, cleaning the house, my planning routines, keeping my computer backed up and organized and more! To help you figure out what you can use workflows for think about the following questions:
- What tasks do you do over and over again?
- What little tasks do you spend lots of time on?
- What tasks are you always forgetting how to do?
- What tasks are you always forgetting to do, but you know it needs to be done consistently?
- What tasks will help you organize your life better?
- What habits in your life need to be streamlined and easier to implement consistently?
- What tasks takes the most of your day?
- What tasks do you spend too much time on?
- What tasks seem to take me forever to complete?
- Do you repeat your tasks in the same way every time?
- How can you streamline these tasks?
Now that you know the tasks you can create workflows for, let’s get to actually creating your lists
- For a current task you do already, document all the steps that you are doing to complete the process
- For the new tasks you listed I want you to do the task and write down every single step. Remember: You’re not writing down the way things should be working, you’re writing down what is actually happening.
- If it’s a checklist of things you want to do like a cleaning or packing checklist adjust it so it works for you and your life.
- You can also use it as a progress/process list for all of your tasks on a weekly basis or for a project
- Just write your tasks along the side and on top write down “on hold”, “doing”, and “done”.
- Identify any problems
- Find ways to fix it
- Ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this?”, “If so, do I really need to do this that often?”
- Look at your list and think of ways you can automate some of the steps to streamline your process
- Is there a program that can do it easily for you?
- Can you reorder the steps to make it more streamlined? (e.g., when cleaning go from top to bottom and left to right).
- Can you do a bunch of the tasks together (batching) to avoid using brain power by not have to switch tasks every time?
- Enjoy a streamlined way to organize your life!
Some examples of my workflows in my planner
I have a project ideas list to jot down all of my ideas that I want to work on. This helps me to prioritize and focus on what to work on when. I put the projects down the list and write down the process steps along the top.
In the next example, I decided to switch it up. Since I have way more tasks to do, but less topics to cover I decided to switch the workflow around. So I put the topics of the video titles along the top, and all the tasks I have to do down the list.
In my 3rd example, I have my blog posts for the next coming months. I put my blog topics on the list, and the process steps along the top.
All of these workflows help me streamline my life!
Ways to optimize your workflow
- Batching – group like tasks and try to do them together so you don’t waste time multitasking
- Scheduling it – Assign time slots to your batches, and add them as recurring to-dos and as time blocks in your calendar
- Using an external brain – write it all down so you can free up mental space. This help make sure you can focus on the task at hand instead of thinking about what to do and when to do it.
- Setting a time limit – According to Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Setting yourself a time limit forces you to work faster and more efficiently.
- Automating – use dishwashers, robot vacuums and smart home gadgets to help with your household
- Outsourcing – order things online (amazon, groceries). Enlist the help of family members. Hire house cleaners, hire a laundry service, or a virtual assistant if it’s within your budget.
Systems to Streamline Your Life
Systems are a way to do something every time. Some systems or workflows you can use to help you streamline your life include:
- Dealing with clutter
- A Place for Everything System – assign homes to each item in your house
- One in One Out System – every time you buy something, you have to get rid of something similar
- Purging on a weekly basis
- Dealing with paper
- Mail System – when you check the mail, immediately deal with it by either trashing or filing it
- Inbox System – every time you get an important paper, file it in the right place right away
- For my files, I use binders so I have the hole puncher right next to them so I can easily punch and file it in the right section instantly
- I have an inbox basket on my desk so if I don’t have time I can file a bunch of papers all at once at another time when I am available.
- Power Hour – spending 1 hour a day cleaning everything that needs to get cleaned that day
- Batch/Themed Days – spending 15-20 minutes cleaning certain areas of the house or doing certain tasks each day of the week
- Weekend Clean – spend most of your day Sunday deep cleaning everything that needs to be cleaned with the help of your family
- Running errands
- Instead of running errands throughout the week randomly, make a list of all the places you need to go and go once a week
- Or if you take your kids to school or an activity practice, swing by to run your errand right after drop off or on your way home
- Carpool and switch weeks/days with a neighbor to school
- Check emails only a few times per day
- Process them right away (reply, or delete)
- Create templates for common responses/answers
- Planning the night before
- Checking your planner the morning of
- Checking planner throughout day
- Reviewing how your day went
- Reviewing how your week went and what you can do better next week
- Setting goals for each week
- Tracking your stats
- Morning/Evening Routines
- Waking up earlier so you can actually complete your morning routine
- Setting out workout clothes so that you can do your workout in the mornings
- Quickly tidying up and preparing food and clothes for the next day before going to bed
- Setting a budget every month
- Tracking expenses every week or even every day
- Paying all bills due once every other week
- Automating bills so you don’t pay late fees
- Automating savings so you can save more money automatically
- Research places to go and driving instructions beforehand
- Prepare a folder or use an app to organize your travel documents, hotel and restaurant reservations and things to do
- Travel with only a carry-on to save time from going to baggage check
- Use time on planes to get work done or read books
I do hope these gave you some idea to help you streamline your life with workflows!
Download your free workflow printable
– Formats include: TRUE SIZE (ONE PAGE)
– The download is in a zip file which includes all the sizes. Each size includes a Monday or Sunday Start, print the page you’d like.
– These printables are formatted to be printed on any size paper (a4, letter, or pre-cut paper, etc)
– Crop marks for easy cutting
-Just be sure to print at 100% or actual size
Best paper to print with – smooth and thick:
Hammermill 28lb – http://amzn.to/2uggSc4 (aff link)
How to Print True Size Inserts:
How to Print:
How to Resize Inserts: