In the modern business world, efficiency is the key to everything. As professionals, we are always looking for more efficient business strategies and more productive ways of working in order to further our goals and get a leg up on the competition. With the constant focus on efficiency, it is a little ironic that this constant search for improvements can lead us to over-complicate things.

There is certainly value in advanced modern process strategies and methodologies. You can learn a lot and transform your way of working by attending productivity seminars, continuing your formal education, or utilizing online resources like Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification, but if you are looking for some simple steps which can be implemented right away, here are a few helpful options.

1.   Evaluate your current processes

Before you can begin to make any sort of improvements, you need to take an honest and thorough look at your current processes. Nothing should be taken for granted, and you cannot afford to overlook any factor that can cause potential waste or unnecessary work.

Be open-minded and introspective, evaluate each step of your workflow – and remember that nothing is so perfect that it cannot afford a little improvement.

2.   Prioritize

After you have taken a thorough and open-minded evaluation of your current workflow, you need to prioritize the most critical steps along the way. Number your steps and put them in order from most important to least important.

This will not only help you eliminate unnecessary steps, but it will help in the evaluation of what is most important. Be prepared to eliminate what is unimportant and take steps to improve the most critical aspects of your processes.

3.   Break it down and simplify

Once we have evaluated our current processes, identified what is most important, and eliminated what we can do without, we need to take things a step further. So much of your time, resources and effort may be wasted simply because things are made overly complicated.

As noted above, much of this over-complication can ironically come from previous efforts toward efficiency, but we need to be prepared to let go of anything that is not necessary. The absolute best way to eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and save time is by simplifying the critical processes that you identified before.

4.   Automate wherever possible

Most business technologies exist to improve efficiency and increase productivity, so do not be afraid to utilize these however possible. Take advantage of productivity software that is designed to help you work smarter.

There are countless apps, software, programs and tools you can use to remove unnecessary effort and personal time. These can help you identify additional improvements that can be made to your workflow, eliminate waste and reduce data errors along the way.

5.   Test and document

With the steps listed above, you should have already removed several unnecessary elements of your workflow and identified multiple ways to improve what you have kept. Now with a few potential improvements in place, be ready to implement them and test your results.

If you plan to radically change your strategies, it may be best to implement only one change at a time, so you can test their efficiency individually. Make sure to document everything and take detailed notes along the way. This will reduce unnecessary strain and provide you with concrete data to which you can refer back when reassessing your workflow again in the future.

6.   Always be on the lookout for possible improvements

Finally, it is critical to never become too satisfied with your current level of efficiency. Things can always be better, and you should always be on the lookout for ways to improve productivity and streamline your workflow.

By being open-minded and analytical, prioritizing and simplifying, utilizing helpful technology, documenting properly, and being vigilant in the search for improvements, you can greatly increase your efficiency and improve your work life.