How to Audit Your Workflow

Question: What does your car, your house, your coffee grinder, your budget, your work routines, and even your marriage all have in common?

Answer: They all require maintenance.

Pretty much anything and everything of importance requires our intentional and proactive care.

However, I find that the older I get, the more “set in my ways” I am.

Somewhere I read that after the age of 35 or so, people stop being excited about new technology. And they even begin to look at new technological inventions and advancements with a critical and negative eye.

If we’re weary to get the latest cell phone, how much more so are we prone to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them?

That stubbornness can be good and bad.

It’s good insofar as it keeps us on track to show up every day and do the work.

But that stubbornness does not serve us well if it keeps us from learning, maturing, and adapting. Our workflows, tools, and routines all need a good old-fashioned audit once in a while.

Auditing Your Workflow

It used to be that when a new operating system would ship for my Mac, then I would do my most serious tinkering. I would do a clean install of OS X and be forced to re-evaluate which apps I wanted re-install.

But nowadays updating OS X is about as easy as updating an app. And though I have made some significant changes to my daily writing routine, I haven’t preformed a good workflow audit in nearly a year and a half (since I bought this Retina iMac).

For the next couple of articles I’m going to be writing about my own workflows and tools in hopes to show you why it’s important (and fun!) take time out for a workflow audit.

As you’re getting to work on your goals and projects for the year, now is as good a time as any to reassess the tools you’re using and how you’re using them.

Maybe it’s time to find a more advanced tool. Or, maybe it’s time to switch to something more basic. How can your processes be enhanced? How can they be simplified? Does something need to be added? Can something be removed?

There’s no right or wrong answer so long as you’re at least asking the questions. (Put that on a stock photo and Pin it).

So, when I do a major workflow audit like the one I’ll be doing this month, there are several things I consider:

  • On my Mac and iPhone I consider what software I no longer use or need; what files can I archive away onto a backup drive; and what files can I delete?

  • In my schedule I consider how I’m spending my time over the course of a week; what would I like to add or remove to my routines; is my time being spent how I want it to be spent; at the end of a week do I feel a sense of accomplishment and contentment in the areas that matter?

  • With my team I look at how to remove bottlenecks and friction as well as ways to empower them, give them more autonomy, and increase overall team morale.

  • For my own day-to-day activities, I consider how I plan my day; how manage and accomplish my to-do list; how I deal with email; how I write, record, and publish articles and podcasts; how I read and study; and how I make consistent progress on big projects.

Because everything above interacts and interweaves with the others, a look at the entire workflow is needed on occasion. It’s valuable to just take a moment, look at the big picture, and ask if everything is running well.

Our lives are ever-changing. As are our interests, priorities, and availability. It’s worth the effort to take a look at our systems and tools to make sure they are still the ones serving us and not the other way around.

And then, as they advise in 4DX, if every other area of my operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?

How to Audit Your Workflow