How workflows can help people manage demanding workloads

managing demanding workloads, brainwork
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Michele Don Durbin, SVP of Marketing at Evernote, explains what workflows are and how one can help you and your team to manage demanding workloads

Many people don’t know what a workflow is and how it can help to boost productivity. In today’s busy work environment, it’s common for workers to need to juggle multiple projects at once. Throw in hybrid working where teams are often split between working at home and in the office and sometimes it can feel impossible to manage heavy workloads.

That’s where workflows come in handy. But what exactly is a workflow? A workflow is essentially a tool people can use to get work done using an illustrated series of steps that have to be completed in sequence to help them accomplish a goal, get a project across the finish line or just manage their day.

Think of a workflow as your own digital system that systematically helps remind you of past ideas, inspirations, and insights. A workflow can work for you as a mental tool to help you deal with natural forgetfulness while helping you take on all your work challenges.

Why do we need workflows?

The human brain is great at recognising things, but poor at recalling them. It can outperform the fastest supercomputers on the former but is outdone by a 1980’s solar calculator on the latter. When you rely heavily on to-do lists, you have to perfectly recall all the steps each task on the list represents and when to do each step in order.

While your brain performs well at recognising patterns, it is poor at storing and recalling multiple patterns precisely as the patterns of neuron activation in the brain interfere with each other. But this is exactly what you’re doing straining to remember the steps for each task in a to-do list.

A workflow does the ‘heavy-lifting’ brainwork for you and helps to improve the organisation and productivity of individuals and teams. For individuals, a workflow covers a basic series of tasks, and for more complex team projects it will cover data, information systems, workers and their behavioural patterns.

Types of workflow uses and the benefits

Workflow diagrams can be used for projects in many areas such as recruitment, manufacturing, e-commerce, education, and healthcare. With recruitment for example there are multiple points in the workflow i.e. processing applications, screening resumes, interviews etc. Using a workflow can help you track and manage the entire hiring process, referencing various types of information every step of the way. It can then help with on-boarding new employees by standardising the steps involved like learning organisational policies, IT, legal paperwork, and training.

Workflows benefit stakeholders and organisations in a variety of ways. These include better decision-making (evidence-based), lower operational costs, better customer or user experiences, and faster processes.

Apps and software that help navigate workflows

There are different types of workflow management software and apps to plan and delegate every step of a workflow. Most workflow management apps and software contain diagrams or images for the three generic stages of a workflow – input, transformation, output – to help people have a better understanding of the process involved.

Different kinds of examples of diagrams in workflow apps and software include timelines, gantt charts (bar charts which show a schedule of tasks over time) and Kanban boards (a visual communication method which helps teams work together).

A platform like Evernote can help with tools like the filtered notes widget on the Home Dashboard of the app. This allows you to choose from a selection of filters to see exactly the notes you want, which can give you an instant overview of any project or workflow. On Evernote you can also customize your filtered notes widget to display the most relevant notes for any given project, so you can quickly see its status and act accordingly.

Ultimately, making use of a workflow can help you and your team to ensure all the moving parts of a complex process are completed in a smooth order to give you more consistent and reliable outcomes. This in turn can make you and your team more organised and productive, which is essential in the modern world of remote and hybrid team working.

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