I recently asked a client what’s her work flow like?
She stared at me for a moment.
I knew at once she has not mapped out her work flow. After a few questions, we were able to identify the steps required for her to get things done.
As a systems and process consultant, I’ve always advocated mapping out processes. Because without one, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to make enhancements.
If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing. ~W. Edwards Deming
During the first few consultations, clients would always defend the need to map out their work flow. Some would argue they have done it for so long, it’s already in their memory muscle. Others would claim the work flow is so clear in their heads.
However, attempting to make any form of enhancements to processes that are in your head is akin to executing complex mathematical calculations mentally without the aid of a calculator.
It is not impossible. But the cognitive load required to do so would be too much to bear.
How to develop and sustain a habit
To develop and sustain my habit of writing every day, I need to make sure that my brain doesn’t fight me when it comes time to write.
Truth is, I want to eliminate any form of distraction, procrastination, hesitation, or reluctance when I need to write. Because there will be occasions that I would be distracted. Or I would procrastinate. Or there will be hesitation because of fear. Or reluctance because of imagination going wild about the amount of work that’s need to get complete the writing task.
Once I’ve eliminated (or at least minimize) any possibilities that could impede me from taking action, I have absolute clarity. And with clarity of what to do, the chances of me getting things done is dramatically improved.
- Without clarity, I would lose valuable time trying to figure out what to do instead of doing it.
- Without clarity, I would tend to procrastinate as I would be imagining in my mind what needs to be done and that very thought would simply add to the resistance of completing the task.
- Without clarity, I would tend to do stuffs that are not important but gives me a sense of accomplishment, like cleaning up my desk.
- Without clarity I would put things off until the pain of not doing it is far greater than the pain of doing it.
So what is clarity?
Clarity is knowing what you want, where you are currently, and what you need to do to get there. It is simple. It is not sexy. It is not sophisticated. But it works. Most task management tools will get you to review all the tasks that you are supposed to do during planning and then schedule them based on some prioritization criteria.
However, the problem with that is that most busy executives would have at least 50 to 100 tasks that need to be completed on any given day. And just looking at that list of tasks alone would likely cause you to chicken out.
For me, especially on days where I have not caught up with my tasks for several days, it is normal for me to feel either overwhelmed and/or frustrated. It rarely makes me feel excited and ready to go. Sometimes, just knowing that I have more than 20 tasks to review just make me want to avoid doing it at all.
So, go forth. Map out your processes so that you have greater clarity in terms of what needs to be done. Beat procrastination.
And get things done.