How to declutter your workflow

Chaos and confusion, be gone! Kevin Gardner shares tips to transform your work processes.

Reading time: 4 minutes

Are you searching for viable solutions to help organise and manage your workflow? Is your goal to declutter to create something that is faster, neater, smaller and more efficient?

If so, you are in the right place. Keep reading to learn how to transform your workflow from a disorganised mess of confusion to an elegant masterpiece.

Clarity out of confusion

As you begin building your workflow, the turns and twists that occur can create quite a bit of confusion. Everyone tends to build messy and disorganised workflows.

After all, you are assigned a task with unknown specs, or specs that change along the way. This is completely normal.

In the end, you need to take a look back at the mess you have likely created to reorganise it in a more structured and efficient manner.

An effective way to reorganise with ease is by using a small business CRM.

Create documentation of what’s going on inside your workflow

It’s a good idea to document your blocks of work by creating annotation comments and notes. You can use these to mark specific parts of the workflow and to describe what’s being done.

If you are sharing your workflow with your co-workers, they will be able to easily understand the steps you are taking and provide feedback along the way.

Learn how to transform your workflow from a disorganised mess of confusion to an elegant masterpiece

Reorganise your existing workflow

Take a look at your existing workflow and imagine what it would look like if everything was perfect. When you have fresh eyes, it may be easier to figure out how a more complex process can be simplified or organised so it is more efficient.

Be sure to see if any of the tasks you have within your workflow are autonomous and whether they could be reused.

Is it possible to remove any redundant operations from your workflow to help make it leaner? Are you able to reorganise everything into layers of operations to help with understanding and transparency?

All these are questions you need to consider carefully during the reorganisation process.

Building a new workflow flowchart

If you are starting with your workflow from scratch, find a general overview of what a good organisation process looks like from beginning to end.

Name the workflow

The name selected should help you identify the desired outcome. However, don’t stress about this too much, as you can always change it if needed.

Identify the start and the end points

What tasks or events will indicate the process should begin? How will you know when the desired outcome is achieved?

Determine what’s needed to handle the process

What materials, documents and tasks are needed? Be sure all elements are identified to ensure no delays later in the process.

List all activities and tasks

What should be done to accomplish the desired outcome? Make sure to list these in the verb/object format (ie approve the request, sign the document).

Every task may have its own area in the workflow, but it’s possible to group smaller tasks with each other to simplify things.

Determine the order for accomplishing the tasks

Are there specific tasks that need to be finished before others are able to be started? Or, are specific tasks able to be handled simultaneously?

Identify specific roles

Who is going to be involved in the activities and tasks listed? There are some tasks on your list that may only involve automation tools, with no approval or input from humans necessary.

However, others may need to be reviewed and signed off. Make sure to figure out who is responsible for each task and all the processes in your workflow.

It may be necessary to add a swim lane for every role, too.

Determine the right type of flowchart to use for your workflow

A swim lane diagram is ideal for processes, and a simple flowchart is going to work for smaller workflows. While you can create this by hand, there are also several tools that will create this for you.



Review everything and finalise the setup

Once everything has been set up, it’s important to test and review your workflow. This is necessary to ensure that all the processes are achievable and efficient and that everything is set to accomplish the desired outcome or goal.

Engage workflow automation tools

After you have finalised your workflow, there’s an array of automation software options you can use to create the workflow and to integrate it with the other software in use.

Remember, test your systems to ensure there aren’t any issues throughout your process.

Use the KISS method for workflow design and organisation

Keep It Simple Stupid – KISS – is something to bear in mind when creating and organising your workflow. If you want to ensure your processes are simple and efficient, use the tips here and remember – the similar the more efficient the process will be.


About the author

Kevin Gardner is a business consultant for InnovateBTS.


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