Have you ever started doing some work and then a mail notification comes in and it looks important so you click on it. Or you have just started something important and the phone rings and you have to answer the phone right! Right? Erm no, actually very wrong!
It is rare for interruptions to be important, or rather to be as important as we perceive them to be. Interruptions are usually little more than an opportunity to prevaricate a bit and stop doing what we need to be doing. And when I say “need” to be doing that is exactly what I mean, the most important thing at this moment in time.
Lots of you will have read Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done”. You may also have read stuff about the Pomodoro technique, if not check out the stuff on this page by doing a little search. However you may not yet appreciate the value of workflows.
I am going to describe Workflows here as I am currently using them. The most simple example would be in the writing of a blog post.
Step 1: Write the post
Step 2: Wait. And that wait should be 24 hours to let it cook because many of our first drafts are not exactly our best work.
Step 3: Edit
Step 4: Post
Step 5: Distribute. The distribution can be the most important part, you cannot expect the whole World to come streaming to your blog to read it however good it is. You have to find the audience where it feels most comfortable. Therefore you should be distributing your post to the greatest number of places possible. To do this I use Posterous, which I have talked about here too. My writing, audios and videos go to up to 20 something places depending on the type of content.
Step 6: Backlink. Luckily Posterous allows a certain amount of backlinking but also it is useful to make blog comments, forum posts and more to get yourself some decent backlinks to each post.
Now all of this may seem like a lot of work and the reality is that it can be if there is no system in place. However one of the clues is in the use of Posterous. It is part of a system to get things done. The whole of the above can be accomplished in just one or two Pomodoros, 25 minutes each one, if the article is one of the shorter types and in three if it is a longer article requiring longer lead times and editing.
The workflow should be the same for everything though.
This is a simple workflow and can be memorised relatively easily however there are more technical jobs required in running a web business and those jobs should also be detailed in a workflow. I have one this recently for the process of buying a domain name, setting up a website and populating the website with content. Three separate jobs really but with lots of individual jobs needing doing within the process. Without one job being done the next can not follow on and yet there is only one job in there that requires a pause, which is pointing the nameservers of the domain to the correct hosting, this often takes some time.
So what I have done is prepared myself for when I actually outsource the jobs by making a website that details the intracacies of each job and what I want my outsourced worker to do. This is like the franchise manual that is talked about in the E-Myth books. There is a manual that all franchisees follow to be successful in what they are doing. Well this is a manual for those doing my outsourcing even though currently I only have a couple of people doing it.
Laying the groundwork for the future of the business is the most important thing I have learnt from previous business failures. Without this preparation, failure at a single point is almost inevitable. It also removes me from the equation for when I eventually decide to move onto something else.
What workflows have you got that you use on a regular basis? And can you share them with others here?