Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Workflow optimization - intro to Productive! Magazine No.31 with Grace Marshall


Optimization is a really popular term nowadays, and I guess because of that its meaning has faded and lost some of its value. It’s a pity, because I see optimization as one of the crucial elements of productivity. It lets me save time and effort and maintain the quality of my work.

This is the Editor’s Note that I wrote for 31st issue of Productive! Magazine. See how you can use the workflow optimization rules employed in plants and factories to improve your personal productivity and team effectiveness.

Workflow optimization - intro to Productive! Magazine No.31 with Grace Marshall

Process optimization is often discussed in terms of business and industry, not in regards to personal productivity, however it is really easy to spot the similarities.

Three crucial parameters that can be adjusted to affect optimal performance in plants and factories are equipment optimization, operating procedures, and control optimization. It sounds kind of formal, but if we take a closer look at it, it all becomes really obvious:

1. Equipment optimization

Make sure the tools, devices, and even furniture you use serve you well and don’t hinder your productivity at any time. Think if there is anything you can change in your PC settings, apps you are using, or your office arrangement.


Equipment that you have should be used to its fullest advantage. It’s good to discover those things that annoy you or impede your productivity, and to try to get rid of any bottlenecks.

2. Operating procedures

However serious it might sound, it is all about making the job easier.

I try to automate everything as much as possible. If it is not too complicated, I write a small computer program that speeds up and smooths the process of getting a given task done (providing I know it will surely repeat in the future). If it is something more advanced, I ask one of the developers to do it for me.

It is also great to write down all the procedures so that other people have access to them and so you are not the only person in power. We have a Nozbe Wiki dedicated to this purpose.

Templates to the rescue!

In Nozbe, we try to have templates for all the recurring processes. A checklist or a separate project template shaves a significant amount of time off and saves a lot of headache. You don’t need to plan everything every time; there is no need to worry that you forgot something or missed something important.

Having an easily accessible database of frequently used elements, steps, or procedures is a must!

Examples: shared templates

To encourage using templates we actually launched a new way of sharing Nozbe templates – it’s called Nozbe.HOW and here’s my video introducing them to the world:

3. Control

In plants and factories they have special control loops. There are hundreds of them, and each is responsible for controlling one part of the process, such as maintaining a temperature, level, etc.

Of course, there is a counterpart for control loops in personal productivity. In short, all your optimization procedures and tricks should be verified regularly. You want to be sure that the templates, checklists, and other means you’ve prepared and use are up to date.

You can also share your ideas with others and ask them to suggest any possible improvements or new ideas.

Try yourself

I hope that this industry-originated idea for optimizing and automating your actions will help identify some bottlenecks and flaws in your workflow. Try to analyze it today and see how you can save yourself some hours and energy that you can then utilise for the stuff that you love or simply the tasks you couldn’t do due to the lack of time.

Read the latest Productive! Magazine #31

Inside you will find a great and motivating interview with Grace Marshall on work-life rhythm-not-balance and being really productive as well as the articles on making working as a team work, transparency in teams and exercises as a productivity booster.

We make sure everyone can read Productive! Magazine - it is free and comes on-line and off-line - you may enjoy it a desk and on the go.

It’s available on the web at and I hope you will like it!

Question: Have you found any areas for improvement? What were they? Please share your findings in the comments so that other readers can think of that too.

Thursday, December 10, 2015 /prodmag-31/