Is there an annoying task you seem to have to do every once in a while? It’s usually not too difficult. It’s just one of those little things you’ve just accepted you have to do, over and over again. Pay bills, mow the lawn, file taxes, walk the dog. If you find pleasure in these things, then good for you and you can probably skip this article. However, I’m assuming most people are like me and none of these things are enjoyable. But there’s a way to fix that.
A system is defined as “a set of detailed methods, procedures and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem.” Now, while we could go into great detail about this, let’s keep it simple for now. A system is something that you can create that takes a little more extra time up front, but will save you a lot more time in the long run.
Systems can be just about anything. Hire someone to walk your dog, write a script on your computer to clean up old files, design a machine that cuts grass for you. You give someone or something a set of rules to follow for a given task and then let them have at it. Okay, so maybe these things are a little mundane. How about this: Henry Ford created the ultimate system when he developed the assembly line, something still used today by most companies that mass manufacture their products. And now that may even end up being replaced by 3-D printing. But I digress, no matter how simple or complex the system is, it is designed to deal with a repetitive task to free up more resources, time or money or both.
So, why is this important? Systems will remove the repetitive, remedial tasks you do every day, month, or year, and free up time for you to work on more important things or to just relax and have a little fun. When you have successfully designed a system for every part of your life and aren’t losing money every month, this is what most people would consider freedom. This is one of the main premises behind Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week. I would highly recommend it if you’re feeling a little lost in life and need some direction. Tim will definitely point you in the right direction and many people I’ve talked to that have read this book said it was a complete mental shift in how they looked at life.
When you start looking at tasks as systems rather than chores, you start to become more efficient. Rather than coming back to something over and over again, slowly sucking the life out of you, you can spend a little more time now and be done with it for good. Then you open up more time to deal with other tasks and you are better prepared for larger tasks requiring more complex systems. All of a sudden your systems are doing the equivalent of 3 people working 40-hour weeks and you hardly have to lift a finger.
As I’m sure we’ll get into in a future post, this is the beginning of your life as an entrepreneur, a business owner. The ability to develop systems is crucial to minimizing your input and maximizing your output. If you want to get a head start on how this pertains to business, take a look at Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited. There are a lot of great examples and the main ‘story’ follows Michael helping someone being consumed by their own business and helping them to completely turn it around and find their passion for it again while also making it successful.
So my challenge for you this week is to sit down and figure out what are some little repetitive tasks you have to do fairly often. This doesn’t have to be anything huge, you can work up to that point later. Just start with something simple and when you see it become a success, then it will fuel you on to the next task. One of the best (and simplest) things I ever did was set all my bills and credit cards to auto-pay. Now I’m not constantly trying to remember which day whats due, it just adds unnecessary work and stress trying to keep up with it. It will also make you more cognizant of what’s in your bank account since you won’t have a choice to pay it or not.
“If you’re too busy to build good systems, then you’ll always be too busy.” – Brian Logue