Nothing like a long weekend to give your life a major overhaul. Oh I know, some people use these lazy last days of summer for BBQs or beach time but I gotta tell you, when I had 3 whole days of nothing, my immediate thought was “CREATE ORDER” … “BUILD STRUCTURE”! And that is exactly what I did and it rocked!!
I cleaned up the office, got stuff ready to put on Ebay, and coordinated special projects like – which plays I was going to audition for this fall and – recording my results from the latest trip to my physician and - making a list of the supplements I’m taking and what each one serves.
By Monday I was clean, clear, orderly, processed and ready to just plain chill.
Through my organizing I took my life to a whole new level of intention and order. This intention and order gives me time, space, grounding and mental capacity to engage in the creativity and connection that fuels my life.
Today we will be exploring how you can bring the power of systems to your life.
A Chart, a List, a Check in the Box… The Power of Systems to Simplify and Accelerate
So often I have people tell me that they just can’t get it together.
They are dropping commitments all over the place and not because they don’t want to or don’t care but often because they just can't keep track of them all. Sometimes they jump out of the gate in earnest and with great intention but then life overshadows their burst of inspiration and in time, any thoughts of a balanced checkbook or trips to the gym fall by the wayside.
What usually happens next is a rousing bout of self-flagellation and talk of their “lack of will-power” or the perils of an aging mind.
More often than not, the problem is not that your brain is failing or that your will is weak, the challenge is that you think that will and memory alone are enough to get the job done. In most cases they are not.
What you need my friend, is a system.
Systems for Scheduling:
I hear that one a lot.
I forgot to take time for myself.
I forgot to work out.
I forgot to put time into my business.
I forgot that I said I would think about what I want to do next with my life.
Oh sure, we could get all deep and call it “resistance” or “avoidance” or what have you, but over time I have come to learn that often these are simply the symptoms of a life waiting for a system.
One of the systems I have used religiously for over 15 years is a calendar.
My calendar is open all day and I live by it. And it’s not just for appointments with others.
On the pages of my calendar I record every commitment I have. Anything that is important enough that it needs to get done is important enough to make it onto my calendar.
If I have a speaking engagement, I don’t just put down the time that I will be at the engagement;
• I write in travel time to make sure I have time to get there.
• I then work backwards from the day of the main event to write in the hours of preparation required to pull it off seamlessly, often going back months to take me from conception to delivery.
• I’ll even block off the night before from social activities just in case the all-nighter has to happen anyway.
I have included a recent week’s activities to give you a flavor of what this can look like.
Outlook is my weapon of choice. The ability to set up recurring appointments is a timesaver and the color coding helps me to assess my day and week at a glance.
Blue are coaching calls
Purple is creativity
Red is Important/unmovable
Green is personal (yep – I keep the personal stuff here too)
If you find yourself not making time to meditate, work out, sell, write, plan or feed the cats, then I invite you to consider putting it on your calendar.
System Tip: If it needs to get done, it needs to get on your calendar.
Systems For Mindfulness:
An entrepreneur client of mine wanted to be more productive at work and often found himself dawdling, doing personal stuff and avoiding what he knew he needed to do.
Over several coaching sessions we identified numerous key thoughts and actions that would support him in getting and staying on the right track.
• getting organized in the morning
• cleaning his desk at the end of each day
• doing the tough stuff first (eating the frog a la Brian Tracy)
• and grouping tasks
He also identified that he needed to stay present – regularly coming back to the moment and checking to see if he is on task and attending to what’s important.
To keep track of these key elements to a quality day, he made a worksheet that he keeps on his desk, checking off actions and making notes on his delivery to intention throughout the day.
As a result of the daily attention to these elements, not only in this client getting more done, staying on task and developing a greater sense of pride and satisfaction in his work but he is also developing supportive and productive work habits that will be with him long after the form has served its purpose.
System Tip: Don’t leave it all up to your mind to be mindful.
Systems for reaching the goal:
We have all seen those big thermometers that are used to chart the funds raised, sales made or pairs of shoes collected.
Believe me, they are more than a pretty graphic.
The visible, measurable and track-able results of any sustained effort towards a meaningful goal is key to getting that goal accomplished.
It is one thing to say, “I need to make an extra $2000 to erase my credit card debt.” and it is an entirely different thing to actually make a workable plan and track your delivery on that plan.
To illustrate, let me tell you about Anne. Anne had just moved her business to a new market and needed to reestablish a client base in her new community.
She had been doing some marketing but the results were unremarkable.
You see, Anne had gotten herself into a self-defeating cycle of trying a little and then talking herself out of it.
She wondered if her effort would really pay off.
She wondered if she was capable.
She even wondered if she wanted to run the business at all or get a job.
All interesting things to wonder, none of which got her into action.
In order to have a breakthrough in her ability to cause in her own business Anne needed to commit in a new, meaningful and motivating way, so she decided to create a game of building her business.
The game was this;
• 20 hours a week of marketing
• Work the plan full-out until the end of September (period – no discussion on this one)
• Measure the plan daily and record progress
• Record and celebrate successes along the way
She created the 90-Hour Marketing Challenge (approximately 20 hours a week for 5 weeks) with a nifty little spreadsheet to match and she has been reporting every couple of days on her progress.
With this very clear plan and visual representation of how she is measuring up to her commitment, Anne is enjoying her game, building momentum and growing her capacity and her faith in her ability to produce financial results in her business and her life.
System Tip: What gets measured gets done.
Systems for Accountability:
The entire coaching relationship is a system in itself.
There is something pretty powerful in knowing that you will need to account for your thoughts, words and deeds at the end of each week. Often this structure is enough to create breakthroughs that have been previously elusive and that’s just the structure – never mind the coaching itself.
In addition to the accountability coaching provides, the dedicated coaching time (scheduled in your trusty calendar) is a system as well.
Sort of a weekly reboot on life where you;
• take stock,
• gain clarity,
• dream up futures
• and commit to next steps.
This process alone will change your life for the simple reason that it requires you to pay attention and live on purpose.
System Tip: Use coaches, trainers and masterminds for structure and accountability.
Pick one area of your life where you would like to move forward.
• Understanding your finances
• Making and keeping a budget
• Getting out of debt
• Eating healthy
• Getting to the gym
• Losing weight
• Excelling at work
• Discovering your passion
• Getting promoted
• Appreciating your partner
• Finding a partner
• Loving yourself
Once you have something worth your time and attention, choose one system to support your progress.
- Put daily time on your calendar to journal.
- Schedule an hour a week just for you to do whatever makes your little heart happy.
- Create an eating plan and check off the boxes as you eat your 5th serving of veggies.
- Make a wall thermometer to measure your progress towards saving 6 months of living expenses.
- Get yourself a coach or a personal trainer or jump into a program that will walk you through to your goal step by step!
Whatever the goal, whatever you want to create for your life, there is a system that will support it, make the ride easier and bring you closer to success.
Get to it!