10 Tips to Optimise your Workflow
10th November 2019
Your workflow costs time, therefore its efficiency is really important as you go through you’re working life.
In this one we are going to cover my 10 tips to optimise your workflow so you can ensure you have the most efficient work practices in place as possible. Although I am coming from an engineering viewpoint, many of the tips here can apply to other professions and even every day life.
With different teams, you’ll find different tools, processes and methodologies in operation. So for each working environment you find yourself in, your workflow needs to be adaptable.
These are my tips to optimise yours with the aim of making you a more efficient technologist.
1. Manage those Notifications!
Distractions, whatever variety, can really impact your train of thought. If you are in the zone and you get a notification from an email, Slack or WhatsApp, or even a phone call from your real estate agent. You will not only find yourself distracted, but you can end up totally derailed from your task!
So optimisation number one, turn off your notifications and reserve looking at them, until set times in your day. If it helps, add a calendar entry to make sure you keep on top of your communications and time box where you can.
This should help keep you focused on the task at hand.
If you find you can’t turn them all off, that’s fine. I personally keep Slack on, but sometimes if I want 1 hour of silence, Slack goes off as well.
2. Talk over Type
If you need something from someone and they are in the same office as you, if you can, pick up the phone, or go and talk to them if you need to. While it can seem quick and easy to send a short email or a Slack message, sometimes it is better to actually have a conversation in the real.
If you are working in a team that has remote collaborators, use Zoom, or another video conferencing tool. Things are less likely to be miss-interpreted if you are face to face.
3. Utilise Design Systems
Not every team member is going to be great with design. Normally UX and UI Design professionals are pretty good at it. Shock horror right!
Working with a decent design and rapid prototyping tool like Sketch, InVision or UX Pin, allows every member of the engineering and product teams to understand a proposed feature and the associated user journeys that go with it.
This helps architects map the data flow, front end developers understand any new components needed, back-end devs visualise the necessary API(s) and request(s) needed, QA think up appropriate test cases and finally product team members see their requirements come to life before the feature or product has even been developed!
4. Make Efficient Pull Requests
With this one, the idea is to stick to the ticket you are working on, only change what is relevant to your current ticket and make small regular commits, all the while trying to keep your PR size down where you can.
You wan’t the reviewer to seamlessly and easily glide through you’re PR so you can get quick feedback and an approval.
To aid in the review process, add your own comments to your pull request so when your reviewer(s) come to it, although you’ll be working on your next task, you’ll be right there with the reviewer talking them through each code block that requires an explanation.
5. Your Workflow is not just your own
In most working environments the team workflow is interlinked by every members individual workflow, so shaving off minutes and seconds in your workflow, will save minutes and seconds from your teams workflow too!
6. One Thing at a Time
This ones obvious, focus on one task at a time.
Make a list for sure, but don’t pull more than one thing from the list at any one time. If you start something, make sure you finish it, before starting anything else. That is of course as long as it has no other dependencies, just remember, mentally switching between tasks can slow you down.
7. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Hopefully you can guess this one, all I am saying is if something exists already, don’t re-create it, whats the point? Save your time, use whats available where appropriate and move on wards and upwards to the next challenge.
8. Automated Message Feeds
So although Slack can be distracting, it can be used to great advantage using automated Slack messages. For example in my workplace right now, we have a variety of channels for different groups and teams.
But we also have automated channels for DevOps and QA test results.
Not surprisingly, the DevOps channel posts messages around deployments and monitoring services and the tests channel contains the latest test results for the run for whichever environment was last under test.
These automated channels can be incredibly useful as no one needs to hunt around for information. If a test is failing, a developer or QA will know and on which environment…all via a neat Slack bot notification.
9. Get Organised!
So earlier I mentioned the use of lists. Nothing new here, but like many people, I use a Trello work board. This helps me manage the tasks I have from day to day and it allows me to focus in on whats needed for the day ahead. And Trello is free, so why not use it?
10. Agile Ceremonies
If you are working in an agile environment, your stand-ups, refinement sessions and planning meetings can really help keep you focused on the product vision and the current tasks at hand.
Once your sprint finishes, your retrospectives can help refine your teams processes further, understand what went well last sprint, what went badly and how to make things better.
It doesn’t take long to complete a retro, but if you want a neat tool to go through the process easily, Retrium is a fantastic solution for time controlled retro sessions.
So there you have it, I hope these tips help you optimise your workflow!
But don’t forget, your workflow needs to be continually improved and refined all the time. As society progresses, new productivity tricks, tips and tools will come to market, so always keep an eye out for things that can help you grow and optimise your workflow.