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Effective Work Flow Management 1: Mastering The Art of Collecting Information [#ProductivityHacks Series]

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[This is 5th article in the #ProductivityHacks series currently running on Trak.in]

In order to accomplish a goal, an objective, a target, entrepreneurs need a solid work flow chart, which can determine how soon and how well that task is being accomplished. In this series of productivity hacks for an entrepreneur, we shall observe how well can we master this work flow and optimize it for maximum results.

A work flow can be defined as a series of connected steps, where each step follows without any delay or gap and ends just before the subsequent step may begin (source: Wiki). For several managers and entrepreneurs, defining and acknowledging a workflow may seem like an additional task, and hence, they avoid spending time into it. But if observed closely, we can find that defining a workflow is very crucial for improving productivity and generating maximum results without wasting much time.

Mastering The Art of Collecting Information

Whatever projects you are currently engaged into right now, an entrepreneur’s workflow, in most of the cases, starts with collecting information. And this chapter will give you an insight as to how to master this step of the workflow.

You Can Never Collect 100% of Information or Data

One vicious loop which keeps us from achieving productivity is that we want to grab 100% information about everything which is required for the project. And in this endless pursuit, we often waste our valuable time and resources.

For example, if you are supposed to give a presentation on your products or services, how much information will actually make sense? Can you define the stage wherein you can safely claim that 100% information about the presentation has been accumulated?

Or say you are supposed to organize a seminar of leading designers and artists for a promotion. Can you grab 100% of information and data related to every designer and artist in your city? How much efficient will be the seminar, even if you get 80% of all information?

This mindless pursuit of 100% of everything is a great myth and entrepreneurs need to be free from this dilemma.

The Most Important Questions for Collecting Information: Why; What and How?

Before you start any project or goal, find out the answers to these three questions, and make it possible to answer them in one sentence each. Why do you want to collect information, what is this information and how will you collect it. Once you have these answers, this process of workflow will become like a cake-walk.

The answers to these questions will relieve your mind from the torture of “100%” of everything, and will keep the whole process simple and subtle. You are not required to hang-on to every bit of information, but collect it, and process it. Depending on the said project, the requirements and necessities of collecting information may differ, but always, answer these three questions and make it easier.

Create A Collection System With Tools

The fact is that, every entrepreneur and professional is already using several tools for collecting information, but are painfully unaware. Let us discuss some of the tools which we are normally using or should use to collect this information:

  • Emails
  • Online Notepads
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Writing Pads
  • Voice Mails

Whatever information gets our attention, we dump it in one of the following tools as mentioned. With time, technologies keep on changing but the basic premise remains the same.

Few years back, no one used a phone to store their ideas but today, there are awesome apps to capture that. But the base remains the same: Use any one of these tools or every tool and collect the information in the most efficient manner.

It is advised to tag that information or name it with some recognizable title so that it is easier to process it once we enter the next step of workflow.

Success Factors For Collecting Information

There are three factors which can determine the success of this workflow:

The data and information should not be in your mind, but in one of these tools:

Your mind is like a RAM or a temporary memory. If you keep on accumulating temporary data in your mind and don’t make use of it, then the whole memory can corrupt. If you find any information great, just dump it in one of the collection tools and free your mind.

Every moment you are alive, there are tremendous amount of information which you are encountering. You cannot and should not try to retain everything you see or hear or understand in your brain. Pick the best information which you feel is useful for your goal and your project, and use the collection tool to save it.

Use less and less tools to collect this information.

There are millions of apps for productivity improvement; thousands of free tools and hundreds of devices where your ideas can be stored. No, don’t use every one of them! Streamline your usage of tools and make it minimum.

Personally, I use only three of these tools to collect all the information I require to complete any project. And for this productivity series, I just used one tool. Small is beautiful when it comes to productivity.

The data and information must be emptied regularly

By the term empty, we don’t mean to ‘open’ that email and read or ‘read’ that book and finish it. By emptying, we mean to process the information which you have collected, and then remove it permanently or archive it if you feel that the information can be used later on.

If the information which has been collected in these collection tools are not used or worked upon, then it has no value.

Thousands and thousands of emails would be accumulated in your email folders within weeks; but if you are not using them for any particular tasks, then what is the use of that? Its same a garbage can, filled with useless junk. This is the why the three most important questions needs to be answered before starting the process: Why, What and How?

The next chapter in this productivity hack series would help you to process this information which you have collected, and make it worthwhile and productive for maximum output.

Previous Chapters in Productivity Hacks For An Entrepreneur Series

  1. Understanding Importance of Time
  2. The Morning Activities
  3. The Four Step Plan
  4. Creating; Managing & Optimizing Lists

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