In this post, I wanted to share with you a personal story about my experience in working efficiently and the transformation I have achieved in the last years.
I always considered myself a quite chaotic and messy person. Always solving problems as they came to me, just getting tasks done when I had to and following the same processes. Without thinking about whether everything I did was really necessary. Without thinking if what I was doing made sense. Working by inertia.
In Kypseli, we really take care of all our processes and try to optimize them to save time and effort in our daily tasks. Thanks to our ways of working, I managed, after several mistakes on the road (especially at the beginning), to detect two key improvement points when facing a problem:
- Working on the go. I used to get down to work without planning beforehand the path I was going to follow.
- Working like a headless chicken. I used to work without thinking too much about the why’s or what-for’s (I specifically talk about this here).
Working on the go
Has it ever happened to you that you start a task and suddenly you realize that you need a resource or some information to complete it? Well, that happens, in many cases, because the task is not well defined, and Guillermo talked about that in this post.
Has it ever happened to you that you finish a task but then there was another little thing to do that had not been contemplated? In other words, that task wouldn’t have been finished until that last step was taken. We should know what we need beforehand, to know if the final result matches what we wanted. We call that Definition of Done (and we’ll write about that in the future).
Has it ever happened to you that you start a task and don’t think very well how you are going to execute it, and try one way, but then you come up with a better plan, you try it, but it wasn’t as good as you thought and you return to the previous plan? To be honest, it happened to me as well. This last one and all the others too. And, unfortunately, not only a few times (and I’ll tell you what I did to solve this problem).
All of these, and “working on the go” in general, takes a lot of time and effort. And everything has one common ground: not analyzing the task before starting to execute it.
And this is my little secret to start thinking things over before getting my hands dirty: I forced myself to analyze each task before I started executing it. Easy, right? Well, not so much.
Integrating it in the work process
The very first thing that helped me get into the habit of analyzing tasks before working in any other thing was our work process. Until then, my workflow consisted of 3 phases. To do, Doing and Done. The simple fact of explicitly including an analysis phase before the Doing phase forced me to think about how I was going to deal with the problem.
But that’s not all. That’s only the beginning (realizing the problem). The next step is knowing how to do it correctly. And I am sorry to say that there’s no magic formula there. Personally, even now I feel there are many variables that I overlook when I analyze a task. But with time and experience, one learns to be aware of obstacles you may encounter while working and anticipate them.
The final goal of doing this is to reduce the execution phase and make it as short as possible.
Small tips for analyzing efficiently
Last but not least, I wanted to give you a few tips that helped me to improve the analysis of tasks:
- Reviewing other people’s dependencies. First of all, I highly recommend to think about whether the task requires other people. If so, it is good to take care of these needs first because their availability may be different from ours and schedules will have to be adjusted.
- Using checklists. Trying to break the task down into smaller steps helps widely in seeing the actions to complete it. At the same time, needs that could be overlooked without taking this step are likely to be detected.
- Knowing where we want to go. Being clear about what is needed for a specific task is important to avoid unnecessary work.
- After each task, thinking back of the analysis phase and consider if we could have done something to optimize that process. This will help us to improve in the future.
Even though, it’s so easy to fall into the same mistake again
It seems even easy said like that, right? If you only think about it, it seems simple. But, in my personal case, every time I try to solve a problem, I have this big impulse to start working on it directly. We all feel the need to see a solution materialized as soon as possible. Even in the startup world, there are a lot of cases where the mistake of developing the complete solution is made, without knowing what is really needed, or without validating it in any way (and that means a huge economic and time cost).
I encourage you to analyze the problems that you have before solving them. It is working for me at least, even in my personal life! If you have similar experiences, comment below, so we can share different points of view.