Last time you learned about using tools to boost your productivity. Now this time you’ll learn about using systems. Let’s jump right in…
First, let’s define what a system is: It’s simply a method you devise or learn to do a process more quickly. It doesn’t have to be a complex system – indeed, basic systems often work the best. But your system does need to give you some benefit.
Let me give you an example of an extremely simple system. Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight. Instead of taking the time to create healthy meals every day, you devise a system where you do all your grocery shopping and cooking for the entire week at one time. You may even do it in an assembly line style, where you line up food containers and put the meat in first, then the starch (like rice) and then the vegetable. Then you label the containers and put them in the fridge.
Again, that’s just a simple example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean by system. You can create and use systems in both your personal and professional life to get more done in less time. This includes everything from cleaning systems to organization and file systems to systems you can use to accomplish important tasks.
For example: if you sell a lot of items on eBay, then you may develop an efficient system for uploading auctions. This likely would involve using templates and other tools to upload the auctions quickly. You might also have other systems in place, such as taking digital photos in the order you intend to load the auction. And once the auction ends you likely would have a system for keeping track of payments and shipments.
Point is, no matter what you’re doing, you can probably develop a system to accomplish the task more quickly. Here’s how…
1. If you’ve never done a particular process before, then ask people with experience how they handle this particular task efficiently. For example, you may ask other business owners their process for hiring a freelancer or keeping track of their expenses.
TIP: Some experts outline their own systems in books, so be sure to run an Amazon.com search to see if there are any books on the system you’re working on.
2. Get input from those who may work on the task with you. For example, if you have a business partner then you should get his or her input. Or if you’re working with a team (such as when you outsource part of a task), be sure to get your other team member’s input.
3. Outline the steps. Now that you’ve received input from team members as well as experts who’ve done what you want to do, list out the steps in detail.
TIP: Some people prefer to create graphical representation of a process and system using process maps or mindmaps. If you prefer these sorts of graphical maps, you can flesh out your system using software like conceptdraw.com or similar.
4. Now complete the process as outlined in your system. If you got good input from the experts, your system will need very little tweaking. Nonetheless, you should examine every step of your system and ask yourself, “How can I make this step more efficient?”
If you feel your system isn’t as efficient as possible, outline it on a niche forum or directly ask an expert to give you feedback. You may also consider asking a friend who doesn’t know anything about the process, as sometimes an outsider has ideas that the insider can’t even see!
That’s it for this time. Next time’s productivity tips will be aimed at a special group of people. You’ll find out next time if you’re a part of that group!