Owning Your Free Time!
Have you ever found yourself doing a simple task over and over?
There are a few commonalities that you will find:
The task becomes boring
When doing something that takes 15 minutes, but you do it again and again and AGAIN. These become monotonous and for the self-starter in you, it decreases job satisfaction and your personal efficiency.
Multiple “boring” tasks become overcomplicated
As you add more of these tasks to your to-do list, eventually a request will come across your desk to add one more thing to your “simple task.” It will include things like:
- Change the color of the font when X or Y occurs
- Jazelle left, can you start sending it to me while we find her replacement.
- When adding a new store, make sure you change the Store Sheet, add an entry into JIRA and make sure to send out an email to Operations.
And this is just one of those tasks, as you add more simple subtasks it becomes overly complicated and you start introducing.
Overcomplicated tasks introduce overlooking subtasks
As something becomes overcomplicated, we tend to start making errors.
- You forget to drag to formula down to the new rows added in a spreadsheet.
- You forget to send a weekly report due to another emergency
You get the picture and this reminds me of a concept in software engineering.
Don’t Repeat Yourself
or DRY. The idea is that when repeating a certain function, you don’t write the same lines of code over and over.
Simply said, It adds technical debt.
In any software project, if you change the usage of code due to a business requirement change or finding a better way to do it, you have to change every instance of it in your code. This leads to a number of issues:
- Introduction of error
- Unnecessary testing of code
- Overcomplicating work
I don’t know about you, but it sounds familiar doesn’t it?
So to remedy this in software, you create template code to do these repetitive tasks. And so I’d like for you to consider how you might create templates in your work to simplify and speed up your work so that you might be able to do new things. Following are a couple ways to introduce checklists:
Create Frequent Email Response Templates
The following was an example from an HBR writer:
I have a template email that I fill in every year to send to my accountant with my year-end tax information. And on a monthly basis, I go through a monthly finances checklist.
Simple, but effective indeed. We all have those templated responses for certain tasks.
Template Task Lists
It's an old method, but very effective as you can simply provide your mind bumper lanes when creating these things.
Automating an Analysis
There are also a couple over platforms I am excited to see develop:
At some point, I’ll write up a little more of a comparison between the various platforms to give you a better idea of what I find to work the best.
Automate Your Data Gathering
As we start getting more SAAS services, we start needing to manage all of these services in a more automated way. Zapier does a great job to collect information from different services (i.e. Facebook, AWS, LinkedIn) and then save the information in whatever format you need (Dropbox, Google Sheets, Office 365). This is much easier than having to go to many different platforms and downloading a spreadsheet or waiting till it hits your inbox.
Obviously, I think there are many other ways you can implement “templating” in your daily work. I hope this will trigger you to come up with other ways that you might be able to increase your work productivity.