Andrew Pallant

Software & Web Developer

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Using Patterns to Gain Work Efficiency

Physical Link: Using Patterns to Gain Work Efficiency

This blog is part two of the information session I would have provided the support team on Tuesday. Part One was yesterday’s post about using Basic SQL syntax to help with our day-to-day work. Part Two is about using patterns to gain work efficiencies. This is probably the most important part of the session that I was going to conduct, as it can be used to gain efficiency and job satisfaction. Pattern identification is how my spider brain works when I am given a task to do. This would have been a great interactive session, but this is the best delivery now. Please feel free to reach out to me for 1:1 coaching opportunities, and I will be happy to review what you are working on and see if we can find efficiencies together.

Identifying Patterns in Our Day-to-Day Work Life

Identifying work-life patterns involves observing recurring events, behaviours, or tasks. These could be anything from your most productive tasks to those that take up most of your time or even how specific meetings or interactions tend to go.

When I am doing a task, I tend to ask myself these three questions:

  1. Have I done that task before now?
  2. Does this task have repeatable components to it?
  3. Is there a tool that I can utilize to make this task more efficient?

Examples of Patterns in Our Work

Patterns can manifest themselves in different ways. For example, you might notice you’re focused and productive in the morning or that specific tasks always take longer than expected. You might also see patterns in team dynamics, such as particular topics sparking debate in meetings or specific projects causing stress in the team.

A pattern I often see is SQL scripting objects into a database. One tool I usually use is Microsoft Excel to create formulas to generate scripts to input large amounts of data where I cannot use a bulk import. I have used this a few times in virtual meetings where I can generate scripts in minutes and quickly configure all the products I am working on. I identified something repeatable in this pattern and could use Microsoft Excel functions to develop all the needed scripts. As I just mentioned, identifying a pattern comes with practice and doing something twice or more before.

Utilizing Identified Patterns

You have identified these patterns; you can use them to your advantage. If you’re productive in the morning, you can schedule your most important tasks for then. If specific tasks always take longer than expected, you can plan more time for them. Recognizing patterns in team dynamics can help you manage meetings more effectively or address sources of team stress. If you have done a task once or twice, is there a way to simplify, automate or find a tool to make it less repetitive? I wouldn’t say I like repetitive tasks, so I am looking for patterns in my workload.

Why Some People Struggle to Identify Patterns

Pattern recognition is a skill that can be developed over time. Some people might struggle because they are used to observing their environment or reflecting on their actions. Identifying patterns can also be challenging if you are close to a situation or too involved in the details. Frankly, sometimes people are too tired and want to complete the task.

How to Overcome the Struggle?

  1. Analyze Your Work Patterns:
    • Start by observing your daily work routines. Note down the tasks you perform, their frequency, and the time of day you are most productive. Look for recurring patterns or trends.
  2. Use Time Tracking Tools:
    • Employ time-tracking apps or tools to monitor how you spend your work hours. These tools can provide insights into your work patterns, including peak productivity times and areas where you might be wasting time.
  3. Prioritize Tasks Using the 80-20 Rule:
    • Apply the Pareto Principle (the 80-20 rule). Identify the 20% of tasks that yield 80% of the results. Focus on these high-impact tasks to maximize efficiency.
  4. Batch Similar Tasks:
    • Group similar tasks together and tackle them in batches. For example, respond to emails in one dedicated time block rather than sporadically throughout the day. Batching minimizes context switching and improves focus.
  5. Create a Daily Routine:
    • Establish a consistent daily schedule. Setting times for specific activities (such as brainstorming, meetings, or deep work) helps you recognize patterns and allocate your energy effectively.
  6. Seek Feedback from Colleagues:
    • Discuss your work patterns with colleagues. They might notice patterns you have overlooked. Collaborative insights can lead to efficiency gains.
  7. Automate Repetitive Tasks:
    • Identify tasks that you do repeatedly and consider automating them. Tools like macros, scripts, or task management apps can streamline repetitive processes.
  8. Track Energy Levels and Focus:
    • Pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day. Are there specific times you are naturally more alert? Schedule complex or creative tasks during those periods.
  9. Use Project Management Tools:
    • Project management software helps organize tasks, deadlines, and dependencies. By visualizing your work in a structured way, you can spot patterns and optimize your workflow.
  10. Regularly Reflect and Adjust:
    • Set aside time each week to reflect on your work patterns. What worked well? What needs adjustment? Be open to adapting your approach based on insights.

Using Patterns to Gain Efficiency

Recognizing and understanding patterns can significantly improve work efficiency. You can get more done in less time by aligning your tasks with your productivity patterns. By anticipating the outcomes of recurring events or behaviours, you can prepare accordingly and navigate your workday more smoothly.

In conclusion, patterns are everywhere in our work lives. By learning to identify and utilize these patterns, we can enhance our productivity and efficiency at work.

Categories: How To, Ideas, Professional Development, Pattern Recognition, Productivity, Team Dynamics, Time Management, Work Efficiency

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