Anyone who has a job to do, a project to complete, or even a small task to manage has some form of workflow. In its most rudimentary form, we might consider them the tools that are used to complete a job. For example, consider a normal homeowner completing DIY work in his garage. He has a workbench, some tools, the item that needs fixing, and power to keep the lights on. He has an organized list of screws, nails, and wooden panels. He’s measured the appropriate place to put everything, and has measured the items to ensure they are relevant. This could be considered, in its most primary form, a workflow.
But most of us work through digital means these days, and that often leads us to manage our own digital workbench in a manner in keeping with the job at hand. However, just like any desk, it can become cluttered. Confusing organization can lead to wasted time. And more than that – these kind of issues can simply put a dampener on our working enjoyment.
Let us consider how your workflow might be limiting your potential, and try to find solutions in that respect:
Use Singular Programs Or Suites
To the extent that you can do this at your job, it’s important to use singular programs or suites to ensure you keep all your work within a simple framework. Most businesses will ensure this is the case, but it’s also important that you do this if you’re working freelance. For example, it might be that you need to use Google Docs for a large bulk of the articles you write. It might be a good idea to also use Gmail for the Hangouts feature, or Google Duo for conference calls, or Sheets to keep your spreadsheets together. Of course, you might prefer some programs over others. Evernote is often touted as a better alternative to Google Keep’s note taking abilities. But to the extent that you can, it can be worthwhile to ensure you keep things together. This can ensure file compatibilities, ease of work, and the simple know-how of keeping everything together. There might be exceptions as explained, but for the most part, this can be a great benefit.
Keep Your Files Well-Labelled
It can take time to keep your files well-labelled. Doing so can sometimes be a little bit of a chore. But entering a tagging system that you keep to can help you avoid spending too long searching for a specific file. We think of those friends we have who save everything solely to their desktop, and cringe at how that can look. Keeping your files well-labelled is essential and so simple that it’s hard to argue with.
For example, keeping everything within folders and subfolders is important. Labelling with the right format can help you read files easier – such as starting with the date or department or client that the file might be for.
Ensuring your workflow isn’t limiting your potential simply means being able to find what you want, when you need it. This is also where ensuring that your computer is clean and free from clutter is essential. For example, mac cleaning solutions could be crucial if dealing with many disparate files collected over the years, or if an accumulation of temporary files are starting to bog down your desktop use.
It can take time to figure out a methodology to this end, but once you do, it can be extremely freeing to give yourself this kind of space. You’ll likely notice the difference.
Use Cloud Backups
It’s extremely important to know that your files are safe, and that you can access them at any time. This can be absolutely critical if you work remotely. It’s not uncommon for professionals to have different files on different USB sticks or removable storage drives, only having to check them all for the particular folder they need ahead of time. This isn’t good for anyone. Cloud backups give people the chance to overcome their difficult current measures, and instead focus on something immediate, secure, and worthwhile.
For example, OneDrive, Google Backup and Sync, Dropbox, MEGA and iCloud all offer device solutions to help certain folders and files upload automatically, no matter what you’re doing. This can be tremendously freeing, and provided you have added security on your account such as 2 factor authentication, you can ensure those files will be well-kept.
Use Seperate Devices Or Accounts
As a freelancer, it can be very tempting to keep everything localized to your personal account. This is of course because you want to see your potential clients or jobs immediately, and also wish to simply sync everything through all devices. But if you’re a graphic designer, you hardly wish to see your holiday photos in the same categories of cloud backup as your client briefs and drafts.
This is why using seperate devices or accounts for your work can be routinely appropriate. In a corporate setting, this is best evidenced by the work smartphone you might use. On a home desktop, it might be creating two user accounts on your operating system, one for your personal affairs, such as gaming, music, movies and your general recreation, another for work. This can also help you stop worrying about work when it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself, and forget about your indulgences or distractions when needing to work.
If you can keep this together, then you’ll likely be very surprised with just how much work you can actually get done.
Interacting With Your Workflow
A workflow is one thing to get right, but considering how you interact with your workflow can be another thing entirely. For example, it could be that at your home office, you find yourself slouching in your seat, that your desk is routinely disorganized, that your lumbar is never supported by your chair or the ventilation is somewhat oppressive.
Ensuring you can use ergonomic peripherals when sat down and beginning your work day, no matter if that’s at home or the office, can help you become more alert when generally working through your day that it’s essential to try and arrange this to your benefit. This is especially true if you’re somewhat physically irregular, such as being very small or tall, as continued frustration could lead to health problems and a lack of true motivation.
It’s also essential to practice good security protocol, no matter if you work from home or for a company, as trojans and other computer viruses can put a pretty big dampener on your day. We would recommend using a VPN that ensures you can connect to a worldwide range of servers at the click of a button, as this helps encrypt your internet traffic. We would also recommend ensuring all of your accounts are kept with 2 factor authentication as mentioned above, and to ensure that your device is locked when you’re not there.
On top of that, ensure to back up your work, to save multiple copies, to ensure that you have zero remote viewing applications unless otherwise specified for your job installed, and that you also tailor the permissions of each program to the right settings, as to avoid any direct loss of control. If you can do all this, your security should preferably be something that you needn’t continually worry about, as it may be assured.
With these tips, we hope you’re better able to manage your workflow effectively.