“…the cognitive and emotional toll of repetitive tasks is real, even if doesn’t leave callouses.
The discipline is to invest one time in getting your workflow right
instead of paying a penalty for poor digital hygiene every single day.”
– Seth’s Blog
As usual, Seth is onto something here. Proposal Land has many repetitive tasks:
- Completing detailed time sheets that allow someone to estimate workload better next time.
- Gathering current project data and kudos.
- Building organization charts and tables and pull-out boxes that are beautiful and clear.
- Identifying the nits for the punch list.
- Fixing the nits from the punch list.
- Tracking where sections are: in whose hands.
- Creating an editing control sheet in Excel or equivalent.
- Formatting documents with defined styles (or without, yikes).
- Checking every section for spelling and grammatical errors and format/layout funnies.
- Sorting through endless emails for the ones you really need to see.
- Printing and assembling documents for review and/or submission.
Most of these involve software tools; all involve workflow. In a schedule-driven environment, it’s easy to let “Just get it done” become our best practice. Instead, Seth argues that we should learn how to make our software tools sing and our workflow hum along.
Hacking your way through something “for now”
belies your commitment to your work and your posture as a professional.
Get the flow right, as if you were hauling bricks.
For the record, I was lousy at engaging with the software and pretty good at doing that vision thing on the process. Seth’s piece is a good reminder that what we do repetitively, we owe ourselves and our teams to do better.
You didn’t mention filing. It’s a repetitive task, and a necessary one. As a natural-born procrastinator myself, I tend to let the filing pile up, and then do a lot of it at once. That has one benefit — all those related pages at least go into the same file. (It also has the disadvantage that if you happen to need one of those pieces of paper, or emails, or whatever, before Filing Day, you have to dig deep.) The problem with filing as soon as something comes in, which would seem to be an intuitive choice, is that one can end up with half a dozen folders all holding some but not all of the crucial pieces of paper.
Perhaps especially with software filing. Often, when I can’t find a document where I think it should be, I have to do a universal search — and find that I have a folder by that name on my laptop, on my desk machine, in One Drive, in iCloud… Thought I was saving to a primary file, but I was saving documents all over the place!
Jim T – An excellent addition. Filing content for retrieval and filing proposal sections for later reference/cannibalization are both essential. My observation would be that everyone thinks it’s easy to lay out navigable structure, but there are few actual librarians among us . . .