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5 Steps to Boost Your Efficiency and Improve Your Workflow

It’s the first month of a new year and we’re all thinking the same thing: we have to get started on the right foot and set the intention for 2021. We’re going to be more productive, we’re going to reach that next level in our careers, we’re going to take care of ourselves better—and we’re going to make it stick.

But, something that a lot of us don’t notice is that developing those intentions into real, true habits doesn’t happen overnight; and, a desire to change or adapt a new way of doing something isn’t enough to make it happen.

Instead, we need something else: organization. And we’re not just talking about cleaning all those coffee mugs off of your desk.

Over the summer, we had the chance to sit down with Janelle Williams, MPH, Professional Organizer, and Member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, who talked about one of the biggest reasons women in accounting can struggle with their productivity, workflow, and time management: clutter.

Clutter can be physical, like a messy workspace or a dirty kitchen sink now that we’re working from home.

But, there can also be digital clutter, like the constant dings from your phone and the unopened emails in your inbox, and emotional clutter, like thoughts that are weighing on your mind.

And they all affect how effectively you work.

Janelle has dedicated her career to helping people increase their efficiency, boost their productivity, and live more manageable, fulfilled lives. So, we’re sharing her 5 tips for women in finance (yes, you) to increase your efficiency and improve your workflow.

  • Shift mindset

  • Prioritize

  • Start small

  • Declutter

  • Organize

Before we get started, it’s important to note that a lot of people like to skip ahead and go straight to addressing clutter and organizing. But this isn’t just a list: this is an order of operations. For us to be able to address clutter, take care of our mental health, and productively work, we need to go through each and every step if we want to reach success.

No cheating!

Shift Mindset

First things first, it’s time to sit down and do some self-reflection.

Janelle says that you’ll want to conduct your own audit on why you’re struggling with your workflow: do you have an issue with time management? Are you stressed out? Do you struggle with staying motivated?

Three people sit at a wooden coffee shop table with laptops and notebooks open and are laughing. The background is a black wall with a plant to the left of their table. There is a glass of water and a coffee mug on the table, along with a leather bound journal.
For some, working in a group can help with staying on task. For others, it's just an excuse to hang out. Photo by Brooke Cagle via Unsplash

Then, once you figure out what you’re struggling with, it’s time to explore the “why” behind your inefficiency.

Why are you struggling with managing your time?

What is stressing you out?

A necessary part of this process is going to include addressing certain behaviors or patterns that you have.

Are you easily distracted?

Are you a procrastinator?

What’s distracting you from completing tasks on time?