My readers and clients often ask me: how do you do all the things you do?
My simple answer is: I just do. Oh, and I have systems.
Systems are the modern woman’s most important weapon.
Key to organization and decision making, without systems, we would just implode (or explode). And I see so many career women running around like Sarah Jessica Parker in the movie, I Don’t Know How She Does It, trying to do it all.
But in order to do it all and have it all, you first need to know what it is that you want. What does doing it all and having it all really mean to YOU?
Define Outcome (DO).
Like Parker’s character does at the end of the movie. Think meaning versus image of perfection. Define the outcome. What does it look like? What is the ideal scenario for you? You don’t have to measure up to anyone else’s idea of an ideal life (wife, mum, boss, employee, daughter etc.).
That’s the framework of your system. Priorities are based on your values. While you may want many things, if you had to narrow them down: your main one or two goals this year, your top 3 priorities this week (not more!). These change over time so don’t worry, you’re not making a lifelong commitment here!
You have defined what you want, you’ve prioritized what’s most important, now look at all the things you do and try to find out what you can turn into a system. Organizing and creating systems in this way frees up time and energy to focus on what is most meaningful in your life. This is the foundation of a house. Without it, the walls just crumble.
Let’s take a birthday party for your kids as an example. Yes, you want to do it perfectly well, having a different and amazing experience each time for the kids.
Again, define and prioritize: What do you (and your kid) want?! What is really important?
And then: What is standard every time? What can you turn into a system?
- The invitation: only change the image each year depending on what the kid is into
- The games: they love to play the same games every year and you can adapt them so they are in line with their age
- Store information on your computer in a folder. Organization. That’s a system.
Or, do you spend too much time doing the admin of your home or business? What can you turn into a system?
- Can you set up folders in a cupboard to put away all the papers that can serve for your tax declaration so you don’t spend hours searching for them at the end of the year?
- Can you have template emails for similar responses you need to send out on a regular basis? That’s a system.
Want to exercise more?
- How does your day look? When do you usually feel like exercising? When can you most easily ‘squeeze’ it in?
- Then set up a system to protect it. Block your hour in your online calendar at work so no one can book you for meetings during that time
- Have your gym clothes and equipment clean and ready (double or triple and one at work in case you forget). Prepare your bag the night before. Those are systems.
When you have such solid systems in place, things like holidays, emergencies, or a sudden change in plans can happen in your life and upset things for a while, but you just get back to your system and pick up where you left off. Without systems, there is no going back to anything. It just feels like constant chaos.
Why reinvent the wheel every time? Why feel overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” you have to do each day (let alone having time left for what you want to do)? Systems are grounding. By taking some time to define outcomes, prioritize, and systemize, you can create a foundation that relieves stress and – when you add action – helps you to accomplish what you want.
Want to know more? The Create Your Life Steps are designed to help you through this process.