Do you have any systems in your life?
These systems might include how your process email, run through your morning routine, or decide what’s for dinner. They make our lives easier.
Systems create leverage. A well-designed system redirects time and energy towards more meaningful purposes. Things that matter. Could you benefit from more time or attention?
If you save five minutes each day, you regain 30 hours each year! If you use that time to improve or develop further systems, you can increase your efficiency almost exponentially. Start small and let those gains compound. The question then becomes, where do we start?
Ideally, we’re starting with the activities we do most frequently or those that provide the most leverage. Systems only make sense for something you’re going to do more than once, but even those you might approach with a specific planning process to limit wasted time as you prepare to attack a new and unique problem.
Some systems that I use are weekly reviews, work cycles, and inbox zero. The weekly review helps me to prioritize tasks for the week and remain organized. Work cycles enable me to zero in on a task where I consistently make progress. Inbox zero has dramatically reduced the time and energy I dedicate towards email although I’ve broken the system, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
These systems are critical are when we get busy, very much the case for me this month. James Clear says it succinctly, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.“
Systems provide structure and enable consistent performance. Without systems, it’s easy to get distracted, overwhelmed, or, worse, consistently waste time on the same things. We all have bad days, but if we can minimize our drop-off in performance and then hammer it on the good days, we become a dangerous combination.
The challenging thing with systems is providing them regular maintenance. They’re like having a car. Fail to get the oil changed or replace the battery, we could be lucky and just minorly inconvenienced. But if the neglect has gone too long, we might be paying for a new engine or starting over with a new car.
Sometimes, our systems break. And, that’s okay. That means our system needs improvement. Then we troubleshoot. We can simplify the process to make it easier to maintain, improve on the current constraints, and verify the system is actually contributing toward the desired end state.
As alluded to above, I broke my email system. Over the next few posts, I’m going to examine my weekly, monthly, mid-year, and annual reviews. Part of my goal is to identify inefficiencies and restore my email processes to my advantage. I hope my experience will be a service to you.