How Proper Systems Save You Time
When our agendas are full, we often have huge amounts of things to do. Executing everything and having all the necessary steps on one’s mind can be really overwhelming.
Wouldn’t it be great if something could save us time and mental effort without having to cut off our everyday tasks? It is possible: systemize!
A system can be defined as a “group of items forming a unified whole”1. Your week for example is a system: a unified whole of seven days.
Especially open systems are interesting for us. When you give a certain input into an open system, it creates a certain output.
Think of it like a car factory. The input is the different parts of the car.
Through a special process – which is the system – the different parts are formed to the car. So, when the parts (input) enter on the one side of the factory (open system) on the other side leaves a car (output).
We often do similar or even the same things repeatedly each day, week or month. Systemizing them means to set up an open system by fitting them to a unified whole.
This is for example pre-setting the circumstances or processes we need to do anyway, so we finally just have to go through the raw motions.
Further, systemizing means doing the unified whole of things always or most of the time at a certain time.
Weekly Planning for example is an open system: The input is your goal or your goals for the week and the things you have to do. The open system is Weekly Planning which produces the output: your structured action plan for the week.
You would anyway have to think about what to do every day. That’s the reason you fit your planning together into a Weekly Planning system. After setting up the system, you choose a certain time when to go through the system.
Do you already see the benefits of systemizing?
Benefits of systemizing
Let’s go on with the example of Weekly Planning. If you didn’t have a planning system, you would go through the same motions every day. You would ask yourself every day what your goals are, what you have to do today, when you should do what etc.
This costs you time every day, as well as mental energy that you could use for the more important things every day.
Now what happens when you already did all this in a pre-set system? Again, the input for this example is: your goals and your tasks. The system is Weekly Planning and the output is your actionable plan for every day.
For example, every Sunday you use the system. When you put your input for the whole week into the planning system, you get out your plan for the whole week.
This means, you won’t have to go through the same process every day. You did it once for the whole week. Instead of guessing every day what you have to do, you already know it and can focus on the execution.
Having a system set up like this does not also benefit you on a daily basis but also on a general one.
For example, planning every Sunday is a fixed time. Your system takes place always in the same day of the week. This means, you also don’t have to think about when to do it. You just do.
It is incredibly beneficial when you have all the right systems, because the things you’d have to do anyway don’t use up most of your time, focus and mental energy.
Having them pre-set only requires you to go through the motions in the least possible and without having to think too hard.
It’s like a worker in a factory: when he fits two parts of a product together, he also does not have to think how the parts fit together: he just fits them together!
That’s because everything is systemized in a way that no or just little thinking is required: The thinking was done once and forever. Do the same with your tasks.
Of course, planning your week every Sunday is not the only way to systemize things. There are many more ways to save time and mental effort by systemizing…
Things to systemize
One way is: checking e-mails for a certain amount of time and at certain times a day.
I only read and react to e-mails if they are important and urgent and ignore the rest.
Then, every Saturday, I declutter my inbox and process all the other e-mails that did not need me to take action right away. Think about how systemizing your e-mails makes sense for you and implement it like that.
You can also systemize responses to e-mails you do often.
Check the e-mails you’ve sent and see if there are any repeating patterns. Write a template for all of them and whenever you need to write a response that fits into that grid, take your template to respond. This is a great example of doing the thinking once and just acting in the future.
As a leader of a team or CEO or just someone working directly with customers, people often receive the same questions over and over again.
Instead of having to answer every time via phone, e-mail or whatever else, you could just archive the answers to questions you’re often asked. This way, people can find the answer without you having to deliver it to them.
Any kind of other procedure you do regularly can also be systemized.
For example, every Sunday I prepare my article, every Monday I write it, every Tuesday I review it, every Wednesday I publish it. This way, I always know what to do and when to do it - and just have to execute.
Now it’s time for you to identify things you could systemize. Everything you have to do regularly can possibly fit into a system.
In the beginning, it may take some time until everything fits together, but when everything is set up, it will save you tremendous amounts of mental effort and time. That way, you can focus on the things that really need serious thinking and your full attention - without neglecting your everyday tasks.
Hope I could again bring a little more control into your life. See you in my next post; until then, make sure to control your schedule, instead of your schedule controlling you.
About the Author
Maurice Leibinn is the creator of Productive Energy Management – a method that helps people get a maximum amount of results in a minimum of time while sustaining their energy and avoiding any kind of overwhelm.
He is a productivity Coach serving serving overworked entrepreneurs and professionals. Read more...