Setting Up Systems in Your Business + Life
The word “systems” seems a lot more confusing and terrifying and super-official-sounding than it needs to be, don’t you think?
At least, that’s the way I used to look at it. I was always a little intimidated by systems, and what seemed the near-constant, not-so-gentle suggestions that I needed systems in my business and in my life if I ever wanted to see any semblance of success in either.
The funny thing is, I actually agree. I (and you) do need systems to successfully do all that we want to do in our lives and in our businesses.
But it doesn’t have to be so scary.
A system really is just a process. It is the step-by-step delineation of the work that you do, whether that be your work as a businessowner or your work as a dad. It doesn’t matter what exactly it is that you do—by documenting the process, you have created a system that someone else can follow.
And why would you do that? So that you can delegate the work to someone else, of course!
(Aren’t systems fun?! I really enjoy them now.)
Everything you do that doesn’t actually need to be done by you can actually be given over to someone else, whether that be your virtual assistant or your spouse or your five-year-old. (Okay, possibly not your five-year old, but I think you understand where I’m going with this…)
Let me repeat: systems are processes that allow your business or your life to run with as little input from you as possible, so that you can focus on the work that actually requires your brainspace and your genius.
With that in mind, why isn’t everyone everywhere setting up systems? I’ll tell you why:
- They take some work to set up.
- People like to believe that their businesses (or their families or their lives) can’t function without them.
So, let’s start with a mindset shift: Systems will allow you to play your unique role—mom, dad, CEO, director, class mom, grandpa, you name it—to the very best of your ability, while letting the minutiae of daily life fall to those who can handle it better…and faster. I don’t know a single one of us who couldn’t benefit from that.
So, let’s get to work setting up some systems! Let me show you how:
Imagine Your Dream Team
Think marketing. Think social media. Think picker-upper-of-kids. Think accounting. Think dinner-maker. Think shipping. Think person-who-orders-and-mails-out-holiday cards. Think even (gasp!) PERSON WHO RESPONDS TO EMAILS. If you could hire your “Dream Team” to take tasks off your plate—what roles would they play and what exactly would they do for you? Go ahead and list them all out.
Record Yourself Going Through a Regular Process
Now, that you’ve figured out everything you want to get off of your plate, I’m going to ask you to do it (“it” being the thing you want off of your plate) one more time. But this time, I want you to record every step of the process. Write down or take video of (or better yet, both!) yourself as you walk through the process of each of the tasks you want your Dream Team to take over for you. It may seem second-nature to you, but it will be foreign to most—so be patient, and take the time to record every step, so that your record answers any future questions, and you don’t have to worry about actually doing the process ever again.
Hire Your Dream Team
It’s possible that you’re not able to hire your entire dream team at the start. (Trust me, I get it.) Start by farming out the responsibilities that take up the most of your time, but actually don’t require you. Or just hire out the work that you can no longer stand to do. (Hopefully, you’ll be able to hire out both!) Perhaps you need a virtual assistant or a bookkeeper to really free you up to work on the business-building tasks that require your genius. Maybe you need a babysitter a few days a week, or housecleaner to tidy up once a month, so you can focus on being a mom instead of cleaning up the clutter. Decide what will help you the most, the fastest, and start there.
Lather, Rinse, Revise, Repeat
As you hire your dream team, pay attention to the questions that come up or the steps that get missed. And, if you have the time (and the patience), go through the actual processes a few more times and pay attention to what you may have forgotten before. Add additional details where necessary or take out what might have been superfluous. Ensure that the directions are super clear, by asking your dream team for their thoughts—did anything make them unsure? Did questions stand out? Where could you be more clear? Add to your systems, as necessary, and you’ll ensure that you’ll never have to revisit these concerns again.
The thing about delegating is you actually have to let go of all those things you used to do. You asked your mom to pick up the kids after soccer practice on Tuesday? Don’t text her nonstop to remind her. You’ve just hired a VA to filter through all new client inquiries? Don’t sit at your computer reviewing incoming emails and her response to them. Trust that you’ve successfully put the processes for a successful system in place, and take advantage of the extra time it affords you. That is the whole point of this, after all.
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Remember, the point of a system is to make your life easier; to rid your life and your business of the things that aren’t necessary for you to do. Not only will systems save you time and money—in life and in your business—but they’ll free you up to focus on the activities and work that you do best. And we all need a little more time for that.
What is the first thing that comes to mind that you’d love to delegate to someone else?
This comes so timely! I’ve been reading some motivationAL books about getting things done and in the right order, such as, “Eat That Frog”. I also stumbled upon the idea of, “The Secret” and these things keep coming to me that are guiding me to get things done! I’m preparing to reopen my in home child development center and am determined to have all spots filled. My goal is to operate with half day preschool students, then have after school students being tutored by high school students earning volunteer hours in the evenings.
Fantastic blog post! I couldn’t agree more with you about the need for processes and systems! Anytime I have to follow an action multiple times, I develop a process for it so that it can be trained and moved on to another team member because I do agree that perhaps it’s not what my time is best served doing. I really do struggle with that mindset shift of moving tasks over and this makes it easier.
Thanks for writing this!