Administrative Basics: Managing Workflow

Content is written by Rev. Micah James, CCA

One of the greatest struggles in a work day is navigating the day-to-day flow of information. Every day we are bombarded with more and more information and every month it feels as if there is a new platform in which that information comes to us. We have to make hundreds of decisions on what to prioritize and that changes with every incoming data point.

“Neuroscientists have discovered that unproductively and loss of drive can result from decision overload. Although most of us have no problem ranking the importance of decisions if asked to do so, our brains don’t automatically do this. … The mere situation of facing … many [small] decisions in daily life creates neural fatigue, leaving no energy for the important decisions. Recent research shows that people who were asked to make a series of meaningless decisions … showed poorer impulse control and lack of judgment about subsequent decisions. It’s as though our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions per day and once we reach that limit, we can’t make anymore, regardless of how important they are. One of the most useful findings in recent neuroscience could be summed up as: The decision-making network in our brain doesn’t prioritize.” (1)

So how do we manage the massive amounts of data and ward off decision fatigue?

We have to make sure we are in charge of the information instead of the other way around.

David Allen, a work-flow guru, and writer of Getting Things Done, talks about it this way, “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

So here are some basics to tame the information monster:

  1. Name your information sources – Take the time to figure out where all your information is coming from. Phone calls. Interruptions. Emails. Calendars. Facebook. Where is the information coming from? Sometimes we don’t even realize where the information is coming from… If we don’t know where it is coming from, we won’t know where to start when we begin to organize it.
  2. Determine your boundaries – Now that you know the sources of the information, you can decide what boundaries you can place on those sources. Do you want to turn off your social media at certain points in your day? Do you want to only check emails at certain times of your work day? Do you put your office phone on “do not disturb” for a block of time? If you are in control of the way the information comes to your day, you can set boundaries… so do it.
  3. What is important? – With the information curtailed, the next step is figuring out what is important. This process can be very contextual, but the most important thing to remember is not to let everything be the number one priority. When everything is important, you will not have clarity of direction. The same is true for emergencies. You have to have a clear metric for what is (and what isn’t) a true emergency. Misclassifying emergencies, and being called off focus, can derail an otherwise productive day. There are several good models for maintaining your priorities throughout your workday. Now it is up to you to have the discipline to hold yourself accountable.

There is so much more to managing the workflow of your day, too much to unpack in a short article. That is why we have decided to offer our first webinar…on this very subject.

Join us on Sept 28 @ 6:00 pm for “Managing Workflow” – $10 will get you an hour on how to manage your work day. Click below to reserve your seat.

Sited Resources:
(1) – https://delanceyplace.com/view-archives.php?p=2740

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