Location: Company Offices – Reading Time: 7-8mins
Process design is about understanding what you do, and I don’t mean that in some philosophical way, but in a very literal, “what steps do you actually take” way. We rarely stop to think how we get things done, most of the time we just…do them. Truth is though, the practice of breaking down how we get from point A to point B unearths ways to multiply our productivity in such a fierce way, it’s almost an entrepreneurial necessity. Streamline practices, outsource minutia, and be ruthlessly efficient by learning how to take on the process design mindset with a few key practices.I don’t mean to introduce another tool or getting things done methodology but instead, habits that will naturally wake you up to where you aren’t just efficient, but effectively efficient! (there’s a difference). Stop wasting time, effort and money doing things simply because you think that’s how things are. Someone once said hindsight is 20/20, well gaining perspective doesn’t always have to be after the fact!
Laundry or Launching
The design mindset is applicable anywhere in life, from doing your laundry to launching a product. Deconstructing the steps it takes to accomplish a task uncovers wasted energy, better tools, and simpler methods. Applied in your day to day endeavors you’ll find yourself less frustrated, more organized and with more time; applied to your business life and you’ll be amazed at the benefits. Entire time stealing endeavors like finding customers, or hunting down gigs can be shortened, easily outsourced or erased all together after you’ve taken the time understand what’s really happening as the hours tick away. Although I can elaborate for days on the importance of documentation and workflow vs just throwing yourself at something for productivity, I’ll leave that for the comments, here’s how to get your mind processing for all around results.
Your New Mental Habits
Think Like a Computer – Each task during the day is like executing a program, what’s the coding? is their thought behind it? is it long and drawn out, or simple, logical and clear? Take some time to recode. Do you double back to get work done? Review the same screens multiple times? Do you send 4 e-mails when if you thought about your questions at first, you’d only need one? Try not to have 12 screens open at once, being fully present to what you’re doing allows you to see it from multiple angles. Embracing that code mindset develops awareness of mind, a simple itch in your brain, “can this be done better?” will allow you to see an improved path, or realize the best action is to just act. It’s a habit you can form in the “programming” of your day to day activities.
If you’ve seen the Matrix, a powerful visual example for process design is when Neo first starts seeing everything in code. The world around him all the sudden becomes easily manipulated, he knows how it works, and he knows how to bend the rules or make the best use of everything around him. He sees how his choices make a rippling impact.
Survey the Field – Often times if we need to get something done, either when a task is assigned to us or we have a general goal, we use our past experiences and what we currently have in our tool belt and get to work. There’s nothing wrong with that, but spending 5 minutes surveying the field can reap big benefits. Always ask questions, always improve your methods. Flexibility is a must. Google things you wouldn’t, scan the best tools for your task at hand, and always ask someone else for help. Yes, I said always. People rarely get amazing on their own, tap the wisdom, shortcuts and knowledge of others to put yourself at an advantage. I wasn’t ever business minded, although I freelanced for years without consulting anyone more knowledgeable, the first time I took an hour of my day to talk over my process with an established businessman, my world changed.
Document – Mindmapping is the best tool for business productivity in the process design mindset. You probably have some sort of system down for your daily work activities, but have you ever seen it on paper? Brainstorm what actually goes into tasks like starting a new project, hiring someone, or writing a blog post. Literally start at ground zero, such as, “open a web browser” or “turn on the computer” … the visual impact is remarkable after you realize that for some reason everyday you do six other things before you actually get to work on the most important projects for the day, or when you take care of e-mail you allow yourself to instant message the entire time and triple how long it takes. Seconds add up people. Use a mindmapping tool like, Mindmeister, Omnigraffle, or XMind and start “blowing up” some important tasks in your day. Once you plan out how you’ve been doing things, you’ll pinpoint best practices and where you’re killing yourself.
You’ll be able to turn several tasks you repeat often into “application like” workflows you can improve or even delegate. Sure it’s time consuming, but do it twice and you’ll understand it’s power.
Step farther: Start doing this for tasks you’d like to do but haven’t yet done to increase productivity before you even begin, or better yet, make the instructions thorough enough that you can now hand them off to someone on craigslist or a virtual assistant. You’ve just created an outsourcing powerhouse workflow. These mindmaps and brainstorms are fuel for accomplishing tasks with accuracy, consistency and if possible, without you even being there!
Actual Applications (Gift-Wrapped Productivity)
Here are some simple ways/tools to apply the ideas above and reap real life results. It’s cheating to give them to you, but hopefully they’ll get you started in thinking up your own and developing some good habits.
Freelance Gig Finding Workflow – click image for full-size version
Digital Activity Mindmap Example – click image for full-size version
Rescuetime.com – taught me I use e-mail too often, I now batch e-mail checks to twice a day for roughly 30 minutes.
Ask500people.com – free quality feedback social network
Scheduling Hacks – Allow laundry build up strategically, your haircuts, your media intake, batch make 5 lunches on the weekend!
Risks and Resistance (Why you wont do this!)
Most of us can’t see into the future (figuratively) so doing something now that will make an impact later is highly disciplined work. It’s why such a small percentage of people save money and why no one ever seems to write good instructions, they want instant results, they want things now. The process design mindset asks you to put in upfront seemingly unimportant effort, but doing so will actually save you effort time and time again while opening possibilities you didn’t even know where there. Fight the urge to procrastinate.
Start seeing the code…
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