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Best Practices: Get the Most Out of Working in a Digital World

Best Practices: Get the Most Out of Working in a Digital World
    Digital workflow

    As director of product marketing at Adobe, I speak with customers everyday about how they can better maximize their productivity in the workplace. They often tell me they spend more time figuring out how to do their jobs than actually doing them.

    Regularly faced with the staggering volume of information, they have difficulties keeping everyone on the same page, keeping track of lost data, information and IP. And today, professionals across industries use a variety of devices such as smartphones and tablets to get work done. We rely on technology to make our days more productive, but with so many different tools and platforms available to us these days, one wonders if we might be over-complicating things. Shouldn’t the digital world make our lives easier and reduce complexity?

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    Working professionals, especially those in an office setting, should take a hard look at their digital work habits and recognize whether these habits are helping or hurting productivity. IT departments can arm employees with the right tools and training, but individuals ultimately have control over how they put the training and the tools into use.

    The first step to get the most out of working in a digital world is to get a handle on your digital workflow. What is a “digital workflow”? We all have one. A digital workflow relies on electronic processes that eliminate the need for traditional paper materials.

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    At the heart of a digital workflow are documents. Companies run on documents. They hold company history, financials, strategic plans, personnel data, etc. For this post, I’ll focus on the digital document because of the critical role it plays in our everyday work.

    Put Content into Context

    Thanks to social media, there’s been a dramatic shift in how we interact with content. The concept of a document used to be a piece of paper, made digital. But now, every worker has the power of a multimedia studio on their phone or laptop.

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    Now the question becomes how do they use this and be more productive at the same time? An insurance agent, for example, needs to process video, images and forms to expedite a claim. It would make more sense to combine that information in a digestible way that is intuitive and easy to navigate through. Putting content into context not only adds clarity; it improves productivity as well because the information is more actionable.

    Don’t Break the Chain

    We’ve all been there – we come to a point when working on a project or assignment where we have to pick up the phone, or send an email to get something done. Then, we wait. Surprisingly, e-mail is still the most often used mechanism to exchange files and comments in a typical workflow.

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    A law firm, for example is constantly preparing case documents, which include lengthy witness statements, expert reports, and exhibits, etc. These types of documents can be many hundreds of pages long and they sometimes require changes at the last minute before being sent to the court. You can imagine the man power that goes into compiling, editing, reviewing, and sending this vast amount of information and the potential negative impact on productivity. Projects like these require tools that go beyond creating a PDF form, editing it, and e-mailing it around – they require an end-to-end solution to successfully complete the job quickly, from start to finish.

    Protect Yourself

    Finally, if your information isn’t secure and protected, it won’t matter how efficient your workflow is. In today’s collaborative online world, it’s more important than ever that software is updated and anti-virus software is installed – no matter which platform or device you’re using. An unprotected environment is a sure threat to productivity and intellectual property.

    What tools and techniques are you applying to your digital workflow to maximize productivity?

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

    More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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