The whole area or topic of Workflow has become somewhat of a buzzy expression. Everyone keeps talking about how this might fit or not fit into your workflow or this will enhance your workflow. Applications appear that say they’ve added in, instead of extensions to enable their capability or macros or what have you, workflows. The concept starts to get a touch meaningless as it gets too buzzy but I view workflow from a different perspective and hopefully not one that’s buzzy but that enables productivity something which all economists and individuals can relate too.
For the purposes of our discussion this excerpt from Wikipedia defines well what I mean by workflow at its essence:
A workflow consists of a sequence of connected steps. Emphasis is on the flow paradigm, where each step follows the precedent without delay or gap and ends just before the subsequent step may begin. This concept is related to non overlapping tasks of single resources. It is a depiction of a sequence of operations, declared as work of a person, a group of persons, an organization of staff, or one or more simple or complex mechanisms. Workflow may be seen as any abstraction of real work. For control purposes, workflow may be a view on real work under a chosen aspect, thus serving as a virtual representation of actual work. The flow being described may refer to a document or product that is being transferred from one step to another.
The Mac as a Productivity Tool
The Mac is fortunately a great tool for improving one’s productivity. As such, in the frame that this article will set out, it is a tremendous tool as part of one’s workflow. For our purposes Workflow will be addressed in terms of its ability to allow you accomplish things in the most productive fashion. At the beginning of the article there is a picture of people at work processing things, during the industrial revolution, that was part of a workflow. That is, if you look at the picture very carefully, every individual had their component piece in the this workflow, one piece leading from one thing to another to produce something at the end. Fortunately, the workflow I’ll be discussing won’t put you into that picture or going off to this one.
Freedom to enable Flow
Rather, fortunately things have changed significantly but work and productivity still have some fundamentals that are routed in time. In both our personal and business lives we are part of or employ some kind of workflow to get things accomplished. The better that workflow the more productive we are. The Mac and its corollary devices definitely enhance the whole process.
Today’s Mac (when I refer to the Mac I’m referring to all things Mac such as the IOS products) is an ideal tool for producing a great workflow. We have excellent:
- desktop computers
- portable computers
- mobile devices such as the:
Your Apple devices enable an enhanced workflow as they are:
- easy to use
- vast array of software solutions to enable productivity
Finally, they enhance your workflow and thus productivity as your Apple environment is:
- with you wherever you are
- true mobility
- sync that ensures data is on all devices that you are using
- can work anywhere
- information is always at your finger tips
Two Step Process to enable a sound Workflow
To attain a sound workflow I’m going to discuss it as a two step process. I’m going to do this by first addressing each of the parts in two articles that will follow from this one.
First I’m going to discuss the value of a model to structure your workflow. Having a model is, in my view, essential. There are a number of workflow models and within any model you can adhere to it fairly strictly or adjust it to suit your own tastes. In the end though, its relatively important to try to stay as close to your model as possible otherwise you loose the structure it provides and thus your workflow can break down no matter how good your tools are. The breakdown of a good work flow only throws you off from achieving your goals and secondly can be costly. No matter how good the tools are that you use, an extreme variation from an effective model will prove counter-productive which is exactly what we don’t want to happen.
Getting Things Done
In the first article following this I’m going to discuss the model I and many others use and that’s David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) model. This works well for me. It has been extensively tested and there are a ton of resources available that will help you learn this model. For the purposes of my article on The Model I’m going to discuss it in the context of Workflow and how it is an enabler of workflow. I’m not going to be instructing you on how the model works per se except at a very general level. Rather I’ll reference you to the resources that are available on the model itself.
Critical to a sound workflow as I’ve discussed are the tools that are employed in your workflow. I’m going to assume that you have at least your Mac or possibly the whole gamut of Mac related products essential to a sound workflow. In terms of the tools I’ll discuss, you’ll need for the purposes of this exercise though at least a Mac. Having interconnected mobile devices will only enhance your overall experience with a sound workflow and your satisfaction with the outcome.
The tools I’ll be discussing in the article to follow the model will not be hardware related but rather software. Software is essential to anything we do with our computers be it entertainment or just getting down to business. There are many software products that I could discuss as enablers of the model we’ll work with but I’ll only be discussing two tools primarily:
These two tools are essential to support the model. There are many other tools that will fit also but I won’t spend anytime on them and in my article although I have addressed in On the Road to Productivity the Simple Things Count how even the simple applications I discussed can support your workflow.
There are two other tools I will address though in the Tools article and that’s:
- The Internet
I won’t spend a lot of time on these however, not that they’re not important as they are in fact very important. However, in the case of the first its easily explained and in the case of the second its almost self-evident.
On the Road to A Sound Workflow
Now that I’ve outlined the value of a workflow, the next step will be to help you enable that workflow. I’ll do this through two articles first discussing
- The Model
and then discussing
- The Tools
that support the model.
So this piece was the starter to using your Mac to deliver a solid workflow that will aid you in being as productive as is possible. Don’t let this sound like a tedious thing. At the end of the day, with it well in place not only will you find your Getting Things Done more effectively but you’ll feel both more accomplished and relaxed. That’s a good payoff for a little up front investment.