Simplification is everything when it comes to systemizing your workflow, because let me tell ya, with systems, the more does not always mean the merrier!
In small doses, systems are incredibly valuable, but it also doesn’t take much for them to become incredibly complex and overwhelming, which can actually hinder your work efficiency. Far too often I see small business owners get bogged down with fancy tools before they’re ready. The primary objective of systems is for them to serve you, not to challenge you! That’s why the most common advice I give to my clients when it comes to systems is to be strategic and keep it simple. There are a plethora of amazing tools out there that can make your life easier, but you’ll only stunt your growth and decrease your productivity if you take on more than you can handle.
First off, let’s clear up one common point of confusion: a “system” does not always mean a service or program. There are services that can help you systemize your business, but there are also organizational techniques and tweaks that can help you better prioritize and visualize what’s in front of you.
For example: let’s say you know that you continuously fall behind on posting to your social media platforms because you only share on a whim when it’s convenient. A new system for you could be as simple as starting an Excel or Google spreadsheet to help you plan out 10-14 days’ worth of social media content and a routine weekly posting schedule—in other words, an organizational technique. Then, as your experience and comfort level grows, you can evolve that system by incorporating automation—a service or program that schedules and shares your social media content for you, which further helps you maximize your time, increase your efficiency, and frees you up to do more meaningful tasks.
If you start slow and systemize based on the current needs of your business, your budget, and your goals, you’ll be more efficient and productive in a) choosing and learning a new system and b) learning how that new system can truly benefit you. Believe me, it is so much easier to add the essentials as you grow than it is to start with everything and constantly consolidate.
Start here… how to become more efficient at work:
- Analyze and make a list of the SPECIFIC repetitive administrative tasks that you spend the most time on in your business. Don’t just generalize it to items like client management, email communications, or social media marketing. Instead, be more thorough and write things like “time spent writing my Instagram captions and researching hashtags”, “remembering to pin at least three times per day”, or “manually creating custom client documentation”.
- From that list, rate those tasks based on the amount of effort required from you [1 being the least, 5 being the most].
- Then, evaluate the items that consume the bulk of your effort and determine which have the most impact on your business growth right now. Do any of them fall in the same wheelhouse? For example, social media marketing often takes the cake here. Why use one resource for scheduling Instagram, one resource for scheduling Pinterest, and one resource for scheduling Facebook and Twitter when you can dig a bit deeper and find one service that handles all your social media? Or worse, why spend an hour writing an Instagram post at random when you can spend an hour planning out the week’s content across all your channels in a spreadsheet, and then input that into an all-in-one social automation service like Buffer? It’s just a matter of selection and simplification.
- Finally, find one solution for your biggest time-suck that will allow you to work more on your business, instead of in your business. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a paid program or service. Start small if this is new to you until you’re comfortable taking it further.
Remember, no matter how you decide to systemize, effort will always be required when running a business. There is no hands-free approach to entrepreneurship. So do your research, know what you can handle, be willing to experiment, and work forward slowly and strategically. Before you know it, you’ll be cruising!