Want more time in your day, less stress, and to feel more accomplished? There’s a process for that…
I tend to write more life opinion and less work focus, but I think developing processes for functioning is really important for everything we do. Note – I didn’t say “routines” though those can be a part of a process and can be a very good thing – but what I want to focus on here is a way of doing things that lets you collaborate more, communicate better, be less stressed about whatever you are doing. You don’t get to a 4 day work week or good work-life balance by running around like a crazy person not knowing what to do next and not knowing what to expect from the people you work with (in any part of your life). Process: a series of steps taken to achieve a particular goal – practically it means you get more of what you want with less effort!
I work with a lot of people who are frantic, often behind schedule, are stressed out and who tell me they are too busy to work within a process – “it’s just one more thing to do.” That’s like the person who is constantly losing their car keys saying they are too busy looking for their keys to start putting their keys away. It’s crazy and it doesn’t make any sense. If you are too disorganized to take the time to get organized you are just making more work for yourself.
How do you build a car with 50 people and no organization? This is not the lead in to a joke. No assembly line, no clear instructions, no process. Just 50 people, a bunch of parts and a goal – go! This is of course a ridiculous scenario. You don’t build a car with a whole lot of people and no plan. It would take way too long, have all manner of problems and cause an enormous amount of frustration for everyone. So if we wouldn’t build a car like this, why is it acceptable to build all kinds of other “deliverables” with little to no process, no organized plan, and only a rough expectation of what the outcome should be?
Having a process has somehow become associated with being uptight, OCD, or an unproductive bureaucrat. But the fact is the best run, most successful organizations have clear, defined processes. This is not anathema to creativity, neither is it something you set up and never look at again. Process development, modification and improvement should be constant so that we are always getting better, more efficient, more effective and ultimately more productive without adding more hours.
Know what you are working toward
If you work alone and only do work for yourself you can organize (or disorganize) yourself however you like – it doesn’t impact anyone else. But when you work as a part of a team you have to have systems for working together. Not just agreements, but systems – that’s how things get accomplished in a logical, intentional, thoughtful, efficient way.
One of the biggest challenges in getting a group organized and working within a process is getting everyone to understand that they are a part of a common goal. The vast majority of us don’t work alone and only for ourselves, we work with other people and are dependent on other people, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
When you know what you are working for, you can start to understand what your part of that work is, how to better communicate what you need from others, and what others can expect from you. Process within any piece of individual work is the equivalent of putting something back in the same place every time so you don’t waste time finding it when you want it, and within group work it is effectively the assembly line for a team – letting everyone do their part in a logical way to get more done in less time with fewer errors. Please, tell me how that could be bad?