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As a leader, there was a point when I struggled immensely with the idea of having a routine. Being free-spirited, I prided myself on being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I lacked any structure or systems in place to guide my modus operandi.
Fast-forward to today, and what you have is someone who still values freedom, but also recognizes that liberty doesn’t mean I cannot use tools and processes to help me stay organized and maximize resources. Because of my free-spirited nature, I’ve learned that it’s actually necessary for me to have some systems in place.
When I talk about systems, I’m simply referring to a set of procedures, apps or other tools that allow me to flow through routine activities more efficiently. Here’s what is working for me in my roles as Host Site Leader for Leadercast Events, podcaster and entrepreneur currently.
When I need to schedule a meeting with someone, I simply use a scheduling app called Calendly. This eliminates an email chain and the chance for miscalculation of time zones when coordinating a time to connect.
When I need to send emails with the same content to multiple recipients, I simply use Gmail’s mail merge feature. Not only does it save time, but it also creates a sense of personalization for the recipient. Plus, unlike some of the eMarketing tools out there, it’s free.
Similarly, QuickBooks helps manage my accounting, and Excel is my go-to for collating data about new clients and calculating the rate at which those leads convert.
As leaders, systemizing our daily activities enables us to measure what we are doing and steward our time well. Management Consultant Peter Drucker said, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.” Working in systems also makes what we do more scalable, giving us a chance to watch our efforts multiply.
Is it time for you to complete a systems audit? Contemplate your workflow and ask yourself:
1. Is too much of my day spent completing mundane tasks?
2. Are these routine tasks eating into time I could be using to do the kind of things only I can do?
3. Am I constantly running out of time?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time to develop some processes. As you look around your organization, ask yourself what activities you can systemize to streamline to increase efficiency.
Recently I had a conversation on The Entrepreneurial You podcast with Kate Erickson, an expert in implementing systems. She suggests taking these four simple steps to identify efficiency gaps and develop systems:
1. Take inventory in your organization by writing down everything you do in a day.
2. List the steps needed for each activity.
3. Look at steps to identify anything you can automate, delegate to others or consolidate.
4. Document your new processes.
Shift more of your tasks into systems and soon, efficiency will become the fabric of your culture, translating into increased production and output.