I’ve been thinking of pipelines a lot recently. I’m not talking about the water pipes underneath the ground into your taps. In data, a pipeline is a linear sequence of steps typically involving some sort of data processing, where the output of one step is the input of the next. Linearity is easy for me, and probably many of you reading this, to understand. It means one big thing is broken down into many sequences, all the steps.
In my thoughts, I recently came up with the idea of the communication pipeline and how effective communication flows from one step to the other. But today, we’re talking about the pipeline of work or, I like to call it, the work workflow. It came about because I’ve been struggling to be productive recently. I’ve been struggling to get things done, and I’ve been trying to, as a solution, find out how to organise and structure my work so I get the necessary things done. I created a template, and I separated my life into three buckets. The three buckets are business work and personal, and sub buckets under each bucket. For example, in business, I’ve got Provuhbs, and I’ve also got my own personal brand. On the personal, I’ve got physical, mental and spiritual. This works because I stick key tasks under the bucket they belong to, and I pick one task per buck per day. This helps me ensure that each area of my life gets a personal level of attention. It also helps me to organise and structure my life, but it doesn’t help me achieve these tasks efficiently and effectively entering the work workflow.
The first step In the work workflow is to identify what needs to be done. While it sounds so simple in concept, I’m sure many of us are reading. This will know that it’s easier said than done. I know for myself picking a task, man is so many to pick from, and trying to prioritise and consider dependencies, gets complicated, frustrating and seemingly impossible. For this step, you must find your own system that works for you. But whatever system you find, you need to ensure you have perfect clarity on what needs to be done and why by the end.
The problem Is it’s easy to say I need to write a report or finish my coursework. And that is precisely where I think the problem is. We tend to lack specificity and end up talking very vaguely and, in doing so, talking nothing at all. We often think we’re being clear and specific, but we’re usually just fooling ourselves. The more clarity you have, the easier it will be to achieve what you set out to do. If I say I want to go to Birmingham, what part of Birmingham am I going to? Having that specific direction will have a very big influence on the outcome. The more detail you have, the clearer you can paint your picture. The more detail you have, the clearer you can paint your picture.
What helps to identify why you are to get the work done in the first place. “There is nothing worse than doing something really well that needed to be done at all “. Establishing the why of a task gives some insight and perspective as to where that single task fits into the whole narrative. Once you do that, you’ll find that even picking the next task is a lot easier because now you’ve zoomed out and seen how everything fits together into one hole.
I am if I am to take this blog article. For example, I first establish what exactly I want to write about. In this case, I want to describe and explain my own process for doing ‘big’ tasks from start to finish. I want to tell a story with it and provide real-life examples to add substance to it. I’m writing this article because it’s something I struggled with and helped me, so sharing it may help someone with similar difficulty. (I’m also writing an article because SEO and content marketing dictate that I do so frequently too)
Once you’ve done step one properly, you should have attained a higher sense of clarity, focus and intent behind what you’re about to do. Once you’ve done step one properly, you should have attained a higher sense of clarity, focus and intent behind what you’re about to do.
2. Plan and Outline
The next step is to develop a high-level review of what needs to be done. Something as simple as hanging the clothes on the line, or calling Becky to see how she is, are not typically intricate tasks.
But generally, we forget that writing that report, doing coursework, or studying for this exam has more parts than we think. Many of the big things that we see I want to achieve. I am just made up of many small things. The body you’re in has many different organs, and your building is made up of many small bricks. Things will, of course, seem so much bigger and more complex when we look at them in their entirety. But break them down into their components, and suddenly, they’re not so scary, and you get to understand them in a deeper depth.
So similarly, when we want to achieve a task in front of us, it would make sense to break it down into its components. The benefit is twofold first. First, the task doesn’t seem as big. Secondly, it helps us recognise that the one thing we want to achieve is made up of multiple steps and/or components in and of itself. Doing so gives us a high-level view and understanding of what the end result should all look like. It gives us a framework and a structure to build around and within. Consider this step the blueprint or the outline for the house you’re building.
For example, when writing this blog, once I know exactly what I want to write a while to write this article, the Next step was listing the different headings and what main points I wanted to make in each heading. There is an introduction, the four work for stages and a summary. I make bullet-point notes about what I want to mention or discuss in each heading. This gives me something to work with and provides a foundation for the article. If I’ve planned an outline properly, I should have a clear visual and mental picture of what matters and the outcome.
3. Prepare and Build
As you can guess, the next step is building your house and completing your coursework.
Work and building will vary depending on the nature of your task or focus. It could be anything from sitting at your laptop and typing on your keyboard to searching for a freelancer on fiverr.com. Whether that’s learning a new concept in programming or building your profile and CV for a new job. I’ve written another blog article categorising the different types of work, which you can find here. But this step is typically associated with what we mean when we say we’re doing work.
This is very low level and where the detail comes in. So, in the case of this blog, this is where I start actually writing the article. I will either use speech-to-text dictation or write it out from the start. But I’m using the framework and outline generated from step two to write it, going section by section.
That can also be iterative. If, for example, you’re designing a website, this could be an iterative step. I might write all the text I’ll use on the website, then design or find the graphics to accompany it. If I’m writing a report or doing coursework, the first part could be doing research, and the next could be writing it. Doesn’t always have to be only two steps, but that’s the general point. As long as you are building each individual component and bringing the task to life and completion, then you are good.
4. Review and Revise
Do you have all your components? You’ve done your research. You’ve written the article. You’ve built the house. The final part that is often forgotten, it’s the consolidation and review. Again, depending on the nature of the work, this can either be a final consolidation or a check that can be an interactive revising and review process. The whole point of this point is to finalise your work and assure quality. This is auditing your work on the steps taken. That’s far too sure that the end result matches the initial idea. It is to reconcile reality with intention.
In the case of this blog, this final step for me was reading through my work again. I was putting it through Grammarly and checking for grandma, syntax and technical nuances of the language. It means ensuring that the message I want to convey has been communicated effectively and that I haven’t strayed from the focus. Also included me editing the excerpt, improving the on-page SCO and uploading it to the website you’re reading on now.
If I’m on a project at work, this stage looks like testing my code to ensure it’s functional and fixing any bugs if necessary. It looks like showing my dashboard to the stakeholders for their approval, and in both cases, it is deployed.
The key to this part is quality. To audit, validate and check your work properly, you must detach yourself and become objective. It’s easy for us to be biased because it’s our work, so we are more likely to pass it off as acceptable and good. We turn a blind eye to all mistakes and inconsistencies. But in doing so, we haven’t given ourselves all the work for justice it deserves.
In conclusion, that is the linear process I adopt whenever I get any work done. Ensure that no steps are missed. It ensures consistent quality and a methodical approach to achieve what needs to be done, regardless of its nature. It helps me eliminate confusion, ensure clarity, and ensure quality.
If you’re struggling with getting things done, whether for uni or work, for your business or even in your personal life, try this work workflow, and hopefully, your workflow will be a lot better…