One of the best ways to save time is to create systems.
If you want to gain back time—to exercise, work on your goals, spend more time with loved ones, and so on–, one way to do it is to create systems that can be automated and streamlined as much as possible.
A system is a method, procedure, or routine which is created to carry out a repetitive activity in a strategic way. Systems can help you run your work and home life more efficiently and effectively. Here are some ideas of things you can create systems for:
- Systematize Your Finances. Paying bills, depositing money in your savings and retirement accounts, investing, and so on are activities that need to be carried out on a regular basis. By creating a system to handle your finances you’ll save time and increase your peace of mind.
- Systematize Your Meals. Food shopping and meal preparation can use up a lot of your time. In addition, if you don’t have a system for these activities you could end up eating unhealthy foods and spending a lot more money than necessary.
- Systematize Your Blogging Tasks. If you’re a blogger, then you know that blogging can take up a lot of your time. However, by creating systems—for writing your blog posts, marketing your blog, creating eBooks, launching your products, and so on–you can dramatically reduce the amount of time that you devote to your blog.
- Systematize Housecleaning Chores. If you dislike housecleaning—like I do—and/or you’re not very good at it—again, like me—you should really consider systematizing your housecleaning chores.
- Systematize Your Mornings and Nights. By systematizing your morning routine, you can ensure that you start each day the right way. In addition, by systematizing your nighttime routine you’ll be able to end each day in a calm and relaxed manner.
- Systematize Your Handling of Email. Many people suffer from email overload. The good news is that you can be much more productive when it comes to handling your email by adopting a systematic approach to email processing.
- Systematize Routine Work Tasks. If you’re an employee, or an entrepreneur, there are probably lots of activities that you have to carry out over and over again. By creating systems to deal with these activities, you’ll start getting much better results.
Below you’ll find a 5-step process to help you create systems in your life.
Create Systems – A 5 Step Process
Here are the 5 steps you need to take in order to create systems in your home and work life so that you can gain back time, be more effective and efficient, and increase your productivity.
1. Take Inventory.
Start by identifying the actions that you take on a regular basis, both at home and at work. That is, dissect your day and take a look at all of the different parts that make up what you get done each day. Some of these activities could be the following:
- Getting ready in the morning.
- Getting the kids ready for school.
- Commuting to work.
- Answering emails.
- Responding to phone calls.
- Writing reports.
- Managing your company’s social media accounts.
- Going out for a run.
- Making dinner.
- Writing a blog post.
- Marketing your eBook or Ecourse.
- Getting ready for bed.
Go through the list of activities that you came up with and ask yourself the following:
- How are you currently getting these things done?
- Do you feel that you’re being as efficient and effective as you can be?
- Where are you losing lots of time?
- Where are you losing money?
- What activities frustrate you the most?
- What is not currently getting done as fast or as well as it should be?
- What’s falling through the cracks?
- What needs to be streamlined?
On the basis of your review, choose one activity to systematize.
2. Analyze What You’re Currently Doing.
Carry out the activity that you want to systematize using your normal procedure–that is, as you’re currently doing it. Document the process by writing down all of the following:
- What steps are you taking?
- What tools are you using?
- Where are the bottlenecks?
- What’s frustrating you?
- How much time does it take for you to complete the activity?
- How much does it cost to complete the activity?
- What types of results are you getting?
Once you’ve written down how you currently carry out the activity, sit down with the document you created and look through it.
3. Plan Your New Process.
A system—as was previously stated–is a process that you create in order to streamline tasks and improve efficiency. Take a look at how you’re currently carrying out the activity that you want to systematize and ask yourself questions like the following:
- What is the result that you’re looking for when you carry out the activity? What is the goal that you’re trying to achieve? What’s the ideal outcome?
- Are all of the steps that you’re currently taking necessary? Can some of those steps be eliminated?
- Are you taking the steps in the most effective sequence? Would you get better results if you changed the order of the steps?
- How can this be done faster?
- Can you create a checklist?
- Would a chart be helpful?
- Would a mindmap make things clearer?
- Can you create scripts (such as a script for welcoming new clients, a script for answering questions that you get on a regular basis, a script for following up with clients, and so on)?
- Can some steps, or the entire process, be automated? Is there a machine or a software program you can use? If so, what machine or what software?
- Can someone else do this — can this activity be outsourced or delegated?
- If the entire activity can’t be assigned to someone else, are there certain steps of the process that someone else could take care of (for example, hire someone to edit your blog posts; get the kids to make their own beds; or have your groceries delivered)?
- Do you need to upgrade the tools that you’re currently using?
Write down the new process that you come up with by enumerating each step. Make sure that each step is well-documented and clearly explained.
4. Execute Your Plan.
Once you have a plan—that is, once you’ve created a system–you need to put your plan into action. This can include hiring people, purchasing software, upgrading the tools that you’re currently using, and so on.
It’s now time for the dry run of your new process. Carry out the activity that you’ve systematized by applying the process that you’ve created, and notice the results that you get. Ask yourself questions like the following:
- Did you get the desired results?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- How much time are you saving?
- How much is it costing you, and, given the results that you’re getting, is the cost acceptable?
- Are you achieving your goal in the simplest way possible?
- Are there any gaps in the process?
- Can the process be optimized even further?
Make any necessary adjustments and modifications. Tweak your new system until you start getting the results that you want.
5. Continuously Improve the System.
Although in theory the idea of creating a system is to create it and forget about it, the reality is that every so often you should take a close look at the systems that you’ve set in place and make sure that everything is working as it should.
In addition, ask yourself if you can make any further improvements. Take a look at the following:
- Is the system still working as it should?
- Can you lower the cost of the system?
- Can you make the system even more efficient and effective?
- Can you improve the system so that you start getting even better results?
Also, it’s very likely that, at first, you’ll be the person carrying out all the steps of each of your systems. However, you’ll almost certainly get to a point where you can hire others.
That is, sooner or later you’ll be able to focus exclusively on the core activities that create the most value for your home life, work life, or business, and hire other people to carry out all the other steps of the systems that you have in place.
In the book “De-Mithify: How to create systems in your small business with free online tools!”, Korbett Miller says the following about systems:
“It’s almost like creating a perfect recipe. You must be able to measure the results, change the process when needed, and always be on the lookout for better ideas.”
Setting up a system on the front end can be a big time investment. In the long run, however, you’re saving yourself hundreds of hours of frustration and stress. In order to live your best life, create systems.