Five tips for an effective daily workflow
HUBS has put together Agile Ants (in Finnish “Ketterät Ketut”), a team that has been trying out ways to maintain productivity and optimise daily workflows with the help of peer support and team learning throughout the spring of 2021. In this story, we share our top tips!
Early in 2021, we, the staff at HUBS, realised that our calendars were jam-packed, and we had an uneasy feeling that our hectic schedules were keeping us from working as effectively as we would have liked. To find a solution, we put together a task force we called Agile Ants (in Finnish: Ketterät Ketut).
We met every Monday morning throughout February to share our experiences and challenges with productivity and time management. Each week, we tested different methods for maintaining effective daily workflows. This article sums up our insights and best tips – try them out and share your ideas with us!
To keep thing short and sweet, we’ll start by giving you the tip five tips. You can stop here or continue reading to learn more about each tip.
- Set 3–5 main goals for each week.
- Have a morning meeting with yourself.
- Play to your strengths and follow your natural rhythm.
- Limit the number of meetings.
- Find your own way to dig yourself out of a productivity hole.
3–5 weekly goals
I have tried the tools included in the Auntie service to manage my time and tasks. What works well for me is to define 3-5 main goals for each week and keep a list of secondary tasks that I am not allowed to tackle before completing my primary tasks. If I meet these main goals by the end of the workweek, I can be fully satisfied with my achievements!
In addition, list 3-5 main tasks each day that need to get done. If there is still time left, you can continue with other tasks (Auntie 2020). I admit I still have to practice staying focused on my main tasks instead of jumping around from task to task and panicking about the avalanche of emails.
I always feel great after the days and weeks when I have managed to stay focused on the essentials!Maria Ruokonen
Have a morning meeting with yourself to set the tone for your day
Set aside time for a Daily Check each morning BEFORE you start work. Do not open any emails or take a quick look at the intranet news stream at the start of your day, but take a moment to calm down, gather your thoughts and plan your day.
The Daily Check will set the tone for your day by giving you a minute to go over your appointments and plan your tasks so you can get them done before the end of the workday. Consider the goals you have set for the week and choose what you can and want to do today to make progress towards these goals.
A morning meeting with myself prepares me for the day ahead and gives me a minute to work out what needs to get done during the day. It helps to ensure I am not just dashing from one task and meeting to another without clear direction!Saara Eriksson
HUBS Communications & Marketing
Play to your strengths and follow your natural rhythm
Identify your natural way of doing things and your circadian rhythm and play to these strengths when planning your schedule. Some of us are in their most productive early in the morning but others feel more alert in the afternoon. Syncing your work schedule with your circadian rhythm will result in greater productivity.
You should try to perform challenging tasks, the ones that require intense concentration and attention to detail, when you feel most alert. You should also consider your temperament and preferred way of doing things when planning your schedule.
For some the mere idea of working on different themes and with different working groups during a single day is a nightmare, whereas for others it is a source of inspiration and excitement.Kaisa Kokko
Limit the number of meetings
Before we made the switch to remote working due to Covid-19, it was normal for us to attend 2-3 meetings a day. It took quite a bit of time just to move from one meeting to another and prepare in between. And all the daily tasks and duties had to performed on top of that.
Remote working has affected the daily workload. Now we frequently attend 5-6 virtual meeting a day because we are no longer having to spend time travelling between meetings. Efficient? Not in the least.Anna-Elina Pekonen, HUBS project manager
The number of meetings should preferably not exceed two or three per day. Of course, it is not always possible to keep such a tight rein, but this should be the goal. You should also reconsider the length of meetings. What if meetings lasted 45-50 minutes instead of an hour? Depending on the agenda, this might help keep the meeting running on target as well as give the participants more time to prepare for their next meeting.
Find your own way to dig yourself out of a productivity hole
If you enjoy a clearly structured workday, this is just the tip for you. Then again, these tips can also help you if chaos is your natural habitat, but you occasionally veer dangerously close to the edge where productivity suffers and inspiration fades. I personally enjoy a hectic work environment, but sometimes it is necessary to introduce some order. But whether you thrive in chaos or are super-organised, you need to strike your own balance.
Having a chaotic work schedule (or being too organised) can prevent us from finding joy in our work. Continuous changes and tasks that pop out of nowhere (maybe it’s because we are working remotely?) are pulling us in multiple directions. Despite having a strong work ethic, you may find yourself in a “productivity hole”. To dig yourself out of it, you need to find a way that works for you.
I think that the key is to understand the big picture and have the importance of one’s work acknowledged both by customers and colleagues. To find what works best for you, it may be enough to do some soul-searching, but it may also be helpful to hear what your friends think or consult with a professional. Why not set up your own Agile Ants team to serve as a sparring partner?Raúl Berlanga Zarate
Each day is a new opportunity
Do not become discouraged if you occasionally slip back to the old ways amidst the hustle and bustle or daily life. Each day is a new opportunity to optimise your time like a pro. Have a cup of tea and consider what you could do today to stay focused on the essentials.
But despite all the agility, productivity and time management, remember to set aside a block of meeting-free and task-free time each day; it is so important for brain ergonomics, recovery and well-being! You will notice the difference it makes to have a little breathing room as opposed to a daily meeting madness.
Thinking time and no-thinking time is critical for knowledge work!
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