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  • Writer's pictureKathy Wilson

How to Use the DRY Principle to Increase Productivity

Being busy is not necessarily the same as being productive. Most business owners are very busy. We’re here to help you become less busy and more productive. Each businessperson has only so much time available, so let’s review a strategy to help you maximize and streamline your efforts.

Better WET or DRY?

These time management acronyms encapsulate your options. WET? Wasting Everyone’s Time. DRY? Don’t Repeat Yourself. In 1999, Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt coined the term DRY. They define it as, "Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system." The focus of the DRY principle is identifying and reducing repetitive tasks. Anything you must do repeatedly is a potential candidate for automation or delegation, both which give you more time.

Review Your Task List

Keep a list of everything you do, regardless of its importance or whether it was expected. If it consumes your time, include it. It’s best to track your activity for a month to provide a fuller and more accurate reflection of duties crowding your calendar. Be sure to include quarterly and annual obligations that may not fall within the month you’re tracking.

Divide and Conquer

After 30 days of tracking, review your list. Assign each item to a particular group. Divide them by whether they’re urgent, important, routine, or unimportant. Having divided what you do into these four categories, it’s easier to separate and DRY them. Consider how repetitive the task is, how much time it takes, and how daunting the job is. Those duties at the top of these divisions are prime targets for implementing the DRY Principle and you can begin automating them.

You won’t be able to automate every task on your list, but reviewing each task with an eye toward automation helps you find opportunities to automate or streamline these duties.

Automating Tasks

Consider creating templates for e-mails, documents, and presentations. You’ll have to add certain information in some cases, but it will save you time and energy. You won’t have to begin with a blank slate and the template already has the organizational structure you need to share pertinent data. Consider all repetitive tasks, even if they recur quarterly or annually. E-mails are a prime automation target. Most have the same structure and much the same content. E-mails to clients and e-mails of monthly reports are prime examples. Using templates for these reduces repetition and time consumption significantly.

Creating E-mail Templates

The most popular e-mail programs include all you need to create e-mail templates. Microsoft Outlook™ and Google G-Mail™ include simple steps for creating and storing e-mail templates. (There are independent software packages available as well.) In G-mail, begin by enabling templates. Simply go to Settings > Advanced > Templates and click Enable > OK. Then, follow these steps:

  1. In an email, highlight the text you want.

  2. Click the three vertical dots in your email, go to Templates and click Save draft as template.

  3. Then, to use it, click the vertical dots in an email, go to Templates and select the one you want to use.

In Outlook 365™, just do the following:

  1. Highlight the text you want to save.

  2. Go to the Insert tab and click Quick Parts.

  3. Click Save selection to Quick Parts Gallery.

  4. Name it, and then click OK.

  5. When you want to use it, go to Insert > Quick Parts and select the one you want to use.

Beyond E-mail

It’s just as easy to create templates in word processing software and many other programs you use routinely: spreadsheets, presentations, projects, and more. Your goal is to eliminate repetition as much as possible. Both Microsoft™ and Google™ have templates built into their programs. Other options are available or you can create your own. Creating the template may take some time – particularly if you create your own – but will save significant time in the future, so it’s definitely worth the initial investment. Be sure to save your templates in a specific location so they’re easy to find when you need them.

Hand Off

As you review those repeating duties, ask yourself whether your administrative assistant, a project manager, or a department head has the information and skill to resolve them for you. Delegation not only removes the item from your list, giving precious time back to you, but also increases the likelihood that anyone with questions or other needs related to that assignment will contact your designee. It’s a double win.

Time Is Money

The less time you spend on mundane, repetitive tasks, the more time you’ll have for innovation, refinement, marketing, and all the other areas requiring your attention. Time is like money, too, in that you can only spend it once. Take the next step to building time back into your workday.

Let the professionals at The Profit Link , a small business support team based in Memphis, TN, come alongside you to implement these DRY strategies and increase your profitability today! we want to link your business to profit.

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