Confession: I love systems. Systems and templates and spreadsheets make me happy. However, I don’t fetishize the system. The system doesn’t run me, I run it.
I use a Hobonichi planner with a modified bullet journal system to track my daily tasks and brain dumps. The ability to write down EVERYTHING that has to be done but also everything that is on my mind, makes things work.
Once I put the tasks on paper, I’m able to wrap my head around what actually needs to be done and how to do it.
I use different task management systems for different clients. Asana is my favorite, because I’m able to have a single login and just move between clients, most of whom love Asana too. I can immediately tell what needs to be done from them and place them on my current day’s tasks with just a click. But for me, if it doesn’t move from the internet to paper, it won’t get finished. I schedule meetings and appointments on my iCloud calendar so that it can yell at me before I have to do something at a specific time.
I do what needs to be done in the way that works for me.
My system wouldn’t work for anyone else. My brain is different than others, and my workflows are different as well.
On a recent episode of Free Agents, a fantastic podcast on the Relay network, Jason Snell and David Sparks talk about the systems they use to keep things under control and how they are productive. One of the things they mention is how some people fetishize the system and worry about the system itself, instead of what they are actually suppose to be doing.
Systems don’t pay your bills (unless you are David Allen) and they should not be what you spend most of your time on.
This is something that I can definitely get behind. The system I use works for me but wouldn’t work for someone else. I would never write a book about my system either, because I’m aware how little it would work for someone else. I’m constantly reviewing the process, but it’s not more than 5 minutes every other week or so. There may be things that are working now that won’t work in 6 months, but I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time on that review either. I don’t fetishize the system.
Being flexible is so important. If you can’t be aware of what your day is doing and how to adjust around you, you will become stagnant. This also means that the system you read in a book 10 years ago may no longer work for you.
That doesn’t mean you’ve failed!
As long as your work gets done, you can sleep at night knowing you haven’t forgotten anything, and don’t drop any balls or miss appointments, you can be successful.
What is your system? Do you adjust it as things move around or is it the same system you’ve used for years because you’ve always done it that way? Or maybe you don’t even have a system in place. It’s one of those things that you always thought you would do in the future. There is a good chance that you do actually have a system and you don’t even know it.
Take some time this weekend and think about what you could do to work better and know that it’s okay to change things to make them work for YOU!