4 Ways to Improve Business Workflow
14/12/2011 7:53 PM

In order to be as productive as possible in the workplace, it's important to improve your workflow. In this article, we'll look at four ways to do exactly that, from optimising your workspace to using business software to automate processes.

1. Optimise workspace
Most of us have a designated workspace where we perform the majority of our work-related tasks. It could be a desk in your office, a study at home or a table in a library. Whatever the case, it's important your workspace be optimised to allow your workflow to be as efficient as possible. Start by clearing away all the clutter in your workspace – a messy desk is no way to begin tackling a project. Don't forget the desktop on your computer, as well – this workspace is as important as any physical workspace, so remove the clutter from there too. Next, try to arrange things so everything is in its place. Create a pile for complete work, for example, one for incomplete work and another for reference materials. Don't just leave everything scattered everywhere.

2. Avoid multi-tasking
It takes our brains a little bit of time to set up for varying tasks. Every time you look at your email, for example, the brain must trigger the appropriate nerve centres to respond to that action. This takes your focus off the task you're currently working on, and if you want to go back to that task your brain is going to have to set itself up all over again. Instead, focus on one project at a time. When you're done, move onto another. And when it comes to smaller jobs, try to perform them all in blocks. To continue with the email example, don't just be rushing back and forth checking your email every five minutes. Instead (and if possible in your line of work), check all your emails once every couple of hours.

3. Minimise distractions
In much the same vein as attempting to juggle too many tasks at once can greatly hurt your workflow and productivity. So can non-work distractions. Things like social networking websites, text message conversations, YouTube videos and so forth will not only eat into the time you've dedicated to getting your work done, but will also cause you to lose time getting back into a proper work mentality. While leisure time is important, try to limit it to certain times of the day, or perhaps use it as a reward for finishing a chunk of work. For example, allow yourself to check your Facebook whenever you finish one particular task, then spend five minutes social networking before moving onto the next task.

4. Automate processes with software
Using customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can help automate processes across your organisation. If you run a business of your own, you should consider implementing CRM and ERP software, which automate workflows in order to increase organisational efficiencies. Because all company information is stored on a central database, employees will have better access to the details they need in order to complete tasks, minimising redundancies and allowing for greater productivity.

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