How to Create a System that Works for You
“I need a system!”
Creating systems is one of the best ways to be organized, save time and maximize productivity. A system is a method or process that you create to carry out repeated actions in a consistent way. Even better, systems can be automated and streamlined to maximize efficiency. A system is the best way to save your sanity.
There are systems to implement in all areas of your life. Home systems include meal preparation, laundry, and cleaning. Work systems include onboarding a new client or payment methods. Use this step-by-step method to create systems that work for you.
Reflect and take stock of the systems that are working
Take a step back and reflect on your current goals and projects, as well as self-care. Where you feel productive and energized, that’s a system that works for you. When frustration and fatigue bubble up, that’s an indicator that a system will help you. Review where there is an obstacle in your home tasks. That’s another area that can use an improved system. Start small by starting only one new system at a time.
Example: Your laundry piles up but your dishes never do. What’s holding you back with the laundry?
Example: You meet with clients daily but you have trouble billing them regularly. What’s the obstacle to billing?
Assess your working systems
Use your successful systems to create new ones that work well. Analyze what you are currently doing that leads to success. What and how many steps are you taking? What tools and strategies are you using? How can you simplify an existing system, improve it, and apply it to another area?
Remember that simple, easy systems with few steps make it more likely the system will work and be consistently used.
Example: What’s working? Dishes go directly into the dishwasher.
Example: What’s not working? It is easier to meet with a client than stay at home to create the invoice.
Plan a new system
Now you are ready to create a process that streamlines your task. What’s the result you are looking for? What’s the least number of steps to achieve this goal? Would a checklist or template help if there are multiple steps? Is there a better tool to use for this than what I have currently?
Example: Could the laundry skip the sorting stage and go directly into the washing machine?
Example: Could you bill the client immediately at the end of the session?
Execute the system
Now you are ready to put your plan into action. Think of it is as a practice session for the first few times you work on your new system. Apply the process you created and evaluate the results. Make any adjustments as you work on your system.
Example: Did the laundry get started? Did the laundry get completed and back into closets?
Example: Did you receive payment regularly from clients with this process?
Now your system is working however there is always room for improvement. Are there ways to make this system even better by adding technology or delegating this to someone else? Once you have created one system, you may be ready to add more systems to your life. Small improvements keep your system functional and consistent.
Some of the systems that my clients have shared with me might be helpful to you!
- Plan a Door Dash night every Friday night.
- Cooks most proteins on Sunday.
- Host a “cafeteria night” every Thursday with leftovers.
- Do one load of laundry a day, every day.
- Store your kids’ clothes in the laundry room instead of storing them in their rooms.
- Every kid has a color. That means we all know that the pink cup, the blue folder, the green lunchbox, the orange towel, etc have a rightful owner.
- If your family is very resistant to helping at home, hire help for cleaning and picking up.
- Always check when you’re leaving a room for something that belongs elsewhere and take it with you.
- Every Sunday I gather and review my notes for the last week to ensure I haven’t missed any action items. It’s part of my planning routine which has a checklist for places to look.
- Have a permanent donation box.
Once you are ready with your system, back up your system with habits. Habits are the actions that follow through on the systems you have established. Systems and habits work together to make life easier.
I’m a big believer in systems, so much so that when something “new” comes into my life, I literally asked myself what my system is going to be to help me get it done.
That was fun reading about some of the systems that your clients have shared with you. Here’s one from me; I set up for breakfast as I’m cleaning up for dinner, including coffee ready to go and devotionals out at my place. I like coming down and being able to push ‘start’ on the coffee pot. I also am more likely to focus my prayer time if everything is ready to go.
There are so many excellent ideas here about identifying working and non-working systems, figuring out ways to tweak them, and being open to continual improvement (like the Japanese business concept of ‘kaizen.’)
We just hosted Passover for 26 family members and friends. It is a big event with lots of food and many moving parts. It’s not our first rodeo; we’ve done this many times. However, my husband and I always do a debrief to see if there were any snags or anything we could improve for next time. We also acknowledge what worked well and make notes of that.
@Linda – I love the debrief idea to know what worked and also what to improve.
@Seana – thank you for sharing a new system for all of us!