The start of a new year signifies many exciting new resolutions, ideas, and projects. But all these well-intentioned goals and tasks can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t have a good way of optimizing your day. Thankfully, January is the perfect time to analyze current processes and find solutions to improve your daily workflow in the new year! From team collaboration to work-life balance and automation, a revamp to your daily workflow has significant benefits for your productivity, communication, and well-being.
Within the past several decades, new studies have revealed that employees now work 15% more and have 33% less free time as their commitment to work extends into the evening and often the weekends as well. This not only affects how well an employee performs in daily tasks but can also lead to greater levels of stress and other dangerous health concerns. When it feels like your job is pushing you to brainstorm more, accomplish more, or work more, there are several powerful ways you can combat burnout—and it all starts with better workflows.
In this blog post, we’ll uncover the eight powerful practices you can start following today to revamp your daily workflow and improve collaboration, organization, work-life balance, and more in the new year.
1. Communicate clearly
Communication in the workplace is powerful. It can enhance collaboration and efficiency or it can stall processes and decrease productivity. Without good communication, it becomes challenging to be an engaged employee, know what to prioritize, or be on the same page with your teammates. Especially now, when many companies still have a hybrid or fully remote work structure in place, a lack of communication between teams becomes all the more difficult without face-to-face interaction. Without good communication, it’s likely that you’ll find it challenging to keep productivity levels from plummeting.
Solution: Make it a point to regularly communicate with your teammates, whether through messages or video calls, and you’ll start feeling more productive, engaged, and in control of your workday. Communication tools are one of the best ways you and your team can stay on the same page with department goals, projects, and individual tasks, especially in a remote or hybrid work environment. Implementing a communication tool like Slack or video conferencing software like Zoom ensures that all employees remain focused on the big picture while staying informed and productive on day-to-day tasks.
2. Get organized
We’ve all experienced the feelings of overwhelm about going through the clutter that has been piling up in a garage or storage unit over the years. For many of us, the feelings are no different when it comes to our work and desk space. Individuals on average spend over an hour looking for an item lost in a disorganized, messy work area. So, it only makes sense that keeping your desk (and even desktop, email, and tabs) organized can improve your daily workflow. You’ll stress less about having a messy area and you’ll stop wasting unnecessary time looking for misplaced emails, papers, and more.
Solution: You’ll certainly benefit from organizing your workspace. But organizing your time and tasks has equal benefits. At the end of every day, take 10-15 minutes to get your area organized, including papers and notes, emails, and tasks for the next day. Using a planner or task management software like Asana or Trello also makes it easier to stay focused by keeping all projects and tasks in a central, easily manageable location. Cleaning your area at the end of the day will help prepare you for the next, so you can begin a new productive day instead of being overwhelmed.
3. Prioritize difficult tasks
Nothing is worse than getting to the last few hours of the workday only to discover that a challenging task still lies ahead (and needs to be done today). This can not only leave you feeling overwhelmed, but frustrated that you didn’t notice the task sooner or may have to work late to complete it. You may struggle to stay motivated, which may cause the quality of your work to suffer too. Without creating a good workflow for daily tasks, you may continue this cycle and begin to feel stressed and burned out more frequently at work.
Solution: To help avoid overwhelm and to improve productivity during the day, plan to complete more difficult tasks in the morning. This has double benefits since you’ll be able to check off hard tasks before lunch and since workplace productivity decreases by nearly 50% in the afternoon hours. If it feels like you have too many difficult tasks piling up every day, it’s also helpful to ask your manager to help you determine which tasks are high priority and which can be moved to a different day. The better you get at ranking your tasks by most challenging, the easier it will be to stay engaged and productive during the day—and leave work on time feeling accomplished instead of behind.
4. Take breaks
We all know the importance of taking breaks, but when tasks, meetings, and projects pile up, it can be difficult to schedule a little downtime during the workday. But the fewer or shorter the breaks an employee takes, the more likely they are to have low wellness. It may seem counterintuitive to take regular breaks throughout the day, but the reality is that it helps us reset so we return to tasks refreshed, motivated, and ready to concentrate and be productive. In fact, regularly scheduled breaks have proven to boost employee productivity and daily workflow.
Solution: When work starts to feel stressful, step away from your desk for a few minutes. You’ll be able to stretch your legs, clear your mind, and give yourself a moment to relax before jumping back into tasks. If you’re a team member, talk with your manager about normalizing more regular breaks throughout the day to help with focus and productivity. If you’re a leader, let your team know that taking breaks should be a crucial part of everyone’s day. The better an employee’s mindset is at work, the more likely they will be to complete tasks on time and do them well. Most importantly, regular breaks are a necessity for mental and physical health.
5. Collaborate better
Juggling day-to-day tasks and projects can be difficult, no matter if you’re a team lead or a team member. But what can cause unnecessary stress for all employees involved is when there is a lack of good collaboration. Miscommunication on projects, missing information, unrealistic deadlines—these are all common issues that can occur without proper collaboration between team members. Disjointed teams negatively impact a project’s outcome and can lead to a loss of productivity, not to mention a decrease in morale as employees struggle to stay focused and communicative.
Solution: Aside from practical tips like streamlining meetings, implementing collaboration software that enables streamlined collaboration has major benefits for your daily workflow and can help you and your team members get on the same page with tasks and projects. With a general workflow organized and available for all to see, it becomes easier to schedule tasks, organize each day, assess deadlines, and keep everyone on track. With a centralized place to organize projects, files, and communication, you’re free to be more productive and improve your daily work routine and be confident that others are too. Pro tip: FormAssembly Workflow simplifies cross-departmental collaboration by enabling all team members to visualize where, how, and when data is flowing at any given time.
6. Avoid data silos
You need a key piece of data to use in a report for a leadership meeting, but you discover there’s a problem with the information: permission denied. The only person able to grant you access is on vacation for the next two weeks. Instead of having solid data for your presentation, you’re stuck waiting for access to one critical document and have to make generalizations during the meeting—making you appear unprepared and wasting everyone’s time. Data silos can hinder the effectiveness of employees and teams, and in order to improve daily workflows, these silos should be minimized or eliminated.
Solution: Eliminating both data silos and information bottlenecks starts with making sure the right people have access to the data they need. It also means having a centralized place to collect and manage data as a whole is critical, even if only certain people have access to certain types of data. This data transparency ensures that if someone does access data, it is up-to-date and accurate. Since disorganization is one of the main contributors to information bottlenecks, being able to effectively relay information and data is important to ensuring key details are not missed.
7. Find a balance
Working late, answering emails on the weekend, finishing tasks during lunch—it may feel like these lead to greater productivity at work, but the reality is that employees with these habits are on their way to job burnout in the long run. With the standardization of hybrid and remote work cultures, finding a balance has proven much more difficult. On average, an in-office employee will take home 26% of their work, and of those working fully from home, 70% work on the weekend. But it’s necessary to establish work-life balance to avoid the exhaustion and stress that affects your workflow with day-to-day tasks.
Solution: The simplest way to revamp your daily workflow is to leave work at work. If you work at home, this could mean shutting off your computer and muting work notifications after hours. This will discourage you from constantly checking in or tweaking projects in the evenings or on weekends. Finding a balance between your work and personal life will help you recharge and prepare for the next day without feeling like you never left. Signing on ready to be productive and efficient each morning after taking a break will improve your daily workflow. If you’re a manager or leader, make sure to establish these expectations throughout your team as well.
8. Start automating
Completing repetitive tasks over and over can really have a big effect on your day-to-day workflow, including how productive and efficient you can be. No matter what industry or department you’re in, not automating repetitive tasks wastes time and may even lead to a loss of engagement in your work. Whether it’s automatic email sorting or project management software, automation can take the stress out of your day and free up your time to improve your workflow.
Solution: Automation should never replace the critical aspects of your job, but for repetitive or tedious tasks that take time away from more important projects, this is the ideal solution for improving your daily workflow. For example, you can implement a platform like FormAssembly to automate tedious data collection tasks. When your team doesn’t have to spend several hours each week on manual data entry, you can save valuable time for more important projects while reducing the risk of errors or miscommunication.
Revamp your entire workflow with FormAssembly
Revamping your daily workflow this year may sound like a big task, but once you get into the habits that improve your productivity, efficiency, and focus, you’ll start feeling more engaged at work and better able to relax when at home. Leveraging a workflow building and data collection solution like FormAssembly is a great way to move toward this ideal state at your workplace.
Our latest and most impactful product release yet, FormAssembly Workflow, can help you tackle many challenges you and your team are facing, including everything mentioned in this blog post. Workflow gives your team complete control over data collection processes that involve multiple steps with web forms, emails, integrations, and more. Instead of struggling with disjointed paper-based forms, spreadsheets, and disconnected systems, Workflow provides a centralized place to collect, connect, and process data—visually, and all without code. Learn more about how Workflow helps everyone stay organized, productive, and efficient by visiting the link below.