Whether you’re working in a large company or running your own startup, systems are your best friend.
They will help you accomplish more, even when you feel like spending your mornings gazing into the fridge or refreshing your Instagram feed.
Systems (not software) will prevent you from procrastinating about what to do and when. And they’re key if you want to outsource or delegate low value activities or tasks that stress you out, like managing email or paying taxes.
To take advantage of this way of working, create systems for your daily life, work or business.
A System For Daily Tasks
You get up, stare into the fridge and wonder what to eat for breakfast. Or you finish work, sit in your car and debate if you’ll stop off at the gym or order a pizza on the way home.
Sure, these little moments of procrastination last only a few minutes, but they’ll add up. After a month, you’ll have wasted hours thinking about the wrong things.
Consider Barack Obama. While president, he wore variations of a grey or blue suits with matching ties for the same reason.
In 2012, he told Vanity Fair: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
To create a system for low-value tasks.
For example, instead of debating whether you’ll go to the gym after work, pack a bag the night before with all you need. Do this every night until training no longer becomes a question.
In turn, this system to improve your health will give you more energy for getting things done each day.
A System For Recurring Complex Tasks
If you find yourself completing something repeatedly, create a checklist in a spreadsheet or Google doc that you can share with others.
Examples include your process for managing email, setting up Facebook ads, promoting blog posts or following up with leads.
Each of these activities has multiple steps.
For instance, if you’re promoting a blog post, you might share it on your favorite social media channels, email relevant influencers and send the post to your email list.
This system is time-consuming to maintain but easily handed off. Once the task is outsourced, you can spend your freed-up hours on higher value tasks like writing or working with customers.
So next time you repeat a time-consuming or complex task, document each step and give the document or checklist to someone else so they can complete the process going forward.
A System For Your Most Important Work
Stephen King writes 1,000 words per day, every day, so he doesn’t have to worry about writer’s block or having nothing to publish come deadline time.
Former U.S. Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink gets up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to train so he doesn’t have to worry about becoming unfit. (Visit his Instagram feed for motivational images that will get you out of bed!)
Warren Buffet reads every day for almost the entire day so he recognises smart investments before his competitors.
Whatever your most important work looks like, create a system so you focus on it, almost exclusively, in the same time or place. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when it’s become a habit you follow without question.
Use software if you must.
For example, say you spend thirty minutes every day trying to arrange important phone calls with leads or clients. The calls are important, but the logistics are less so.
You could put a time-saving system that automatically helps clients book times in your calendar using a tool like Calendly or Booklikeaboss.
A System Of Systems
Once you’re confident about creating and using systems, consider having a system for all your systems.
I know it sounds meta or self-referential, but keep documentation for each system in one place. Decide in advance how to handle future low-value tasks. Then establish what type of activities you’ll create checklists for and outsource.
Working on your systems takes time, but this investment will free your cognitive energy so you can focus more on what you love doing and less on what you must do.
Originally published on Medium