Do This for 15 Minutes, and You Will Save Hours.

You’re working hard.  You’re working often. Still, things are not as you hoped they would be. You end up feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, totally wiped.  Many people think in order to reach goals, we must work harder.  That’s not always the case; instead, we need to create systems to help us work smarter.

Systems streamline, saving time.

Systems remove the guesswork, saving stress.

I explore this concept with my clients day after day.  Creating systems, for the big stuff, and the small stuff, can streamline your life and help you to feel a huge sense of relief from the everyday chaos. When you wake up in the morning, is there an order in which you get ready for the day?  I bet there is.  If that order of things is disrupted, what does it cause? Stress? Frustration? A significant amount of bad language?  Don’t be ashamed….we’ve all been there.  

Our morning routine is a small example of our dependence on the safety and expectations that come from systems.  We love them, because they take guessing and decision making out of the equation.  

Let’s take an example from some of my superstar clients (names and details have been changed).  Erin’s office was covered in piles of papers.  When she arrived at her office with new mail, or files, she tossed them down wherever there was an empty area. (Are you getting a nervous itch?) She didn’t think much of it, until her boss started making comments, and she realized how frustrated she was when she couldn’t find things. This was a consistent stressor, because she was unorganized, and she was making a poor impression.  After exploring some ideas, she created a system where she puts the papers in a newly purchased paper box, which she can throw into a desk drawer. This might not be an ideal system for everyone, but for Erin, it is a great baby step in keeping her office straight and her sanity intact.

Let’s look at another example from a superstar client named Drew.  Drew is the owner of a very successful marketing company.  He has recently become frustrated with the company’s lackluster team meetings.  He does not usually go in with a clear agenda, and often forgets issues he meant to discuss.  After thinking through ideas that suit his personality, he created a system in which he keeps a running list in the notes section of his phone.  Whenever he thinks of something to discuss in the meeting, he makes a quick note and moves on.  Come meeting time, he has all of his thoughts in one, easily accessible spot.  His employees are more engaged, the time together is more productive and he proves that he is capable of great leadership.  Seems like a simple solution to many, but it wasn’t something Drew had taken time to consider.

That’s just it.  You have to make time to explore solutions.  While the solutions you create might be very simple, their effects are substantial. Don’t try to tackle them all at the same time.  Pick one, allot 15 or 20 minutes of your day to think through the obstacles and the possibilities, and give it a try.

The benefits of having systems:

- Clarity -

For everyone involved.  When we know what is expected of us, and what to expect from others, things run much smoother.  With clarity, we promote better work and home environments; it offers a better way to get things done.

- Productivity -

 Much of the reason we don’t accomplish things is because we don’t think about what is required and the best way to get there.  Systems give us a map to the end goal.

- Order -

Chaos ensues when there is no plan.  When effective systems are in place, all of the moving parts are able to work efficiently and without the conflict, which comes from disorder.

The beauty of systems is how they interact with one another.  Your systems at home overflow into your systems at work.  If you have a plan in place to consistently get out of bed on time, that will get you to work on time. They work in collaboration with each other, which is why it’s important to consider the many parts of our lives that could be improved by these small changes.  We must be willing to revamp our systems.  Don’t become discouraged if the first one you try doesn’t work….try another one.  You have to find a fit that is appropriate for you, as they look different for each individual.