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Productivity Hack: Write Mini Process Flows

Productivity Hack: Write Mini Process Flows

Creativity is one thing, but capturing it into a form that’s useful (to your needs) is another. I’ve got an idea that I plan to implement for myself: mini process flows. Now, your jobs that you’ll need done are different than mine. I’ll just show you mine as examples, okay?

Process Flow Basics

Here are the basics of getting something done by way of a process flow:

Input – Work Performed – Output.

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You start by taking _____ from someone or something. You do what you’re going to do to it. You give it out to wherever it’s going. The trick, of course, is mostly within the “work performed” section. You have to lay that out in such a way that it’s repeatable, and that you can follow along without much attention to the process after you get it working right. Let’s take a task I’m doing these days: producing a podcast.

More Than One Flow

First off, producing a podcast has lots of steps that deserve their own flows. Let me think:

  • Collect Information
  • Interview Someone
  • Record My Parts
  • Edit Audio
  • Mix audio
  • Write Show Notes
  • Produce the files
  • Upload Files to Host
  • Build Corresponding Show Notes Post

(Don’t worry. I won’t make a flow for each of those.)

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Build the Flow

For my example, I’ll do “Produce the Files.”

Here’s an example of how a flow might work out-

  • Input– audio mix from GarageBand 3 still in Garage Band and Show Notes in Text Editor.
  • Work– Play through audio once, listening for big mistakes.
  • Send the file to iTunes.
  • Inside iTunes, select the file, choose Get Info.
  • Edit info, inserting show notes and links into Lyrics tab. Doublecheck art. Etc.
  • Choose “Convert File to MP3.”
  • Play the new MP3 file once it’s converted.
  • Move MP3 file to upload area.
  • Output– Upload Files to Host flow

That’s how that process flow works. I use GarageBand 3 to mix down the podcast (all the music tracks, the interview bit, my bumpers, my promos, etc), and then I use iTunes to convert the file from Apple’s proprietary file format into the easier-to-distribute and consume MP3 format.

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The Benefit of Process Flows

So, if I had a small notebook with printed pages that said, “Podcast Production,” and that contained all the flows for the various steps listed above, I’d have a fairly easy set of Next Actions to follow to get my job done.

The BENEFIT of that is simple. I can choose to scale any part of my efforts that I can explain so easily in those process flows. For instance, what if I wanted to pay someone to do my editing, my mixing, my file production, and pretty much everything after the creative efforts? I could re-write the flow such that the entire “Produce the Files” flow could be sent off to someone else, and they could do pretty much everything else for the rest of the process.

Being able to disaggregate parts of the value chain means that I can choose to focus on different parts of the process, such as recording more audio, improving my techniques, etc. There are far better audio editors than me, but maybe I want my own style to show through in the interview process. Or maybe I don’t. I could give the flows for getting the recordings made to others, and then do the back-end work for them.

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See how this can be useful?

Flows as Next Actions

Because flows have inputs and outputs, they act as somewhat larger Next Action moments within the project. You could choose to overlay contexts to the flows such that each Input section could show the contexts necessary. For instance, I can’t produce the files for a podcast while out at a coffee shop (not yet, at least). So, some consideration to that could be overlayed to deal with those concerns.

Further, because my work requires some amount of creativity, there are times when I’m not as ready to produce as others (no, really!). I can use those times to work other flows that are just as important, but aren’t as heavy on the brain power.

What’s your take? How would you add to this? Do you use anything like process flows in your day now?

–Chris Brogan is working on executing larger scale projects with increasing complexity using these types of process flows. His blog is [chrisbrogan.com], but don’t go there today. His new media company is Grasshopper New Media, where he just brought on Kevin Kennedy-Spaien as Executive Producer for Health Programming.

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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