The last two years ushered in major disruptions to the workplace, and 2022 is already looking like another rollercoaster ride around the sun. With work-life balance cited as a top concern for employees and leaders in a recent WorkPlace Intelligent study, it’s essential to keep a vigilant eye toward your time and tasks.
As a workplace simplification expert and author, I focus on removing complexity from every step of my clients’ processes and workflows. But on the eve of every new year, I set aside time to walk the walk by identifying new ways to stop the creep of complexity in my own work life. Below are five simplification intentions for 2022; if any of them align with your goals, feel free to borrow or customize accordingly.
1. Put your inbox on a diet. I’ve worked with organizations where employees receive more than 200 internal emails a day, and in those situations, I recommend extreme measures. Starting with yourself, limit sending or replying to a maximum of 30 emails per day. Once that quota is met, your inbox is closed for the day. Consider adding a line to your e-signature that informs recipients of your new approach to email: “In an attempt to accomplish measurable work, I reply to only 30 emails daily. Thank you for understanding!” When a few influencers in an org are willing to publicly change their inbox behavior, it can change hearts, minds and email habits across an entire company.
2. Track down duplicate work. Reach across the silos and dialogue with other divisions about redundant work or duplicate systems. When you uncover opportunities to streamline, determine whether the work should now be centralized, shared equally or eliminated from one group.
3. Replace a main process with its workaround. Have any employees or groups created a shortcut for an internal process? Consider making it the new protocol. Define your criteria for what constitutes an improvement — i.e. X amount of time saved? Y amount of money saved? — and implore employees to find workarounds for other complex processes.
MORE FOR YOU
4. Equip managers with outcome-focused solutions. Urge people to resolve gripe sessions by asking “what does a successful outcome of this conversation look like for you?” By encouraging employees to phrase their grievances as wishes, you transform a complaint like “I hate our hiring process” into a solution-centric statement like “I wish our hiring process required only two levels of approval and could be completed within a week.”
5. Delete toxic people/customers/clients. If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, consider removing these people from your world in 2022:
· Do they distract or continually suck up your time?
· Do you remember who they are or where you met them?
· Do they inundate you with messages or otherwise clog your inbox?
· Is it a one-way relationship in the other person’s favor?
From shortcuts to solution-driven dialogue, each of the tactics above is designed to simplify your work life — and that of your employees or direct reports. As you create new habits in 2022, consider building on any that you’re able to master with ease. By choosing simplicity over complexity every day, we’re clearing a path for more valuable, meaningful work in the new year and beyond.