In April 2010 I had an anxiety attack.
At that time, I was juggling two part-time jobs, running my own tutoring business, and was hustling my butt off on the side to start a freelance writing career.
I’d overloaded my nervous system. I’d turned myself into a never-ending capsule of panic. I felt like I had to work constantly or nothing would get done.
I hated feeling like I had to wear all of the hats for my business: the janitor hat, the writer hat, the secretary hat, the manager hat, the marketer hat, the customer service hat.
“If I don’t do it no one will”, I kept telling myself.
I knew that there had to be a better way, but I felt stuck.
Fortunately, there is a better way. Thank Moses.
If you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by all of the extra stuff that you have to do with your biz other than the things that you love to do, I have the magic cure.
You need a strong dose of the following:
- Routines + habits
Mix them together and add a spoon full of sugar.
Mhmm. That’s right. These seemingly boring medications are what keep an entrepreneur sane. Actually, they won't just keep you sane, they'll help you mulitply your income. (And they're legal, don't worry).
Routines + habits, processes, and systems make sure that the boring stuff gets done so that you have time to do what you love.
Systems are especially gorgeous godsends that deserve a little more appreciation and attention. I can’t wait to tell you more about them.
Here’s what’s up:
Routines + Habits : The WHEN of your work.
Routines and habits are the things that you do every day. Your life is full of habits from the minute you hear your alarm (how do you react?) to the way you fall asleep at night. The world provides triggers that subconsciously tell you to start performing a habit. But are they the right ones?
How do routines and habits play out in your business/work life? Think about the following habit triggers:
- What do you do first thing when you sit down at your desk?
- When you open a web browser, what’s the first url you go to?
- How many times do you check your email each day?
- When you think of an idea or a “to do” what do you do?
- When you jot down a note, what do you do with it afterwards?
- What do you do every morning after you wake up?
- What do you do every night before you go to bed?
Processes : The HOW + WHAT of your work.
Processes are the way that you interact with your business. Do you have a specific process that you follow every time you write a blog post? When you go over your finances? When you contact a client?
To improve my business, I’ve implemented the following processes:
- Steps to writing a blog post.
- Steps to writing a sales page.
- Steps to contacting a client.
- Steps to writing a proposal.
I keep these processes updated on documents on my Google Drive so that they are accessible from anywhere). The key to writing out your processes is to write it with enough detail that you could hand the formula to someone else and they could do it exactly the same way as you (or pretty damn close).
Systems : The WHERE and the SET-UP.
In a world with no systems, with chaos, everything becomes a guerilla struggle, and this predictability is not there. And it becomes almost impossible to save lives, educate kids, develop economies, whatever.
Systems are my new obsession. Think of them like delegation. YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING EVERYTHING IN YOUR BUSINESS. PERIOD. If you feel like you’re wearing all of the hats: the accountant hat, the writer hat, the janitor hat, the secretary hat, the marketing hat, the web designer hat, then systems are what you need.
Implementing a system often costs money, which is why many new entrepreneurs shy away from them. I did for a long time, too. But when my business even started gaining the slightest bit of traction and success, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to keep up with all of the hat wearing and changing.
I’m still exploring the world of systems, so if you have any advice, please do share it on the Facebook page. Here are some systems that I have implemented:
- A scheduling program called Schedulicity for all of my client appointments. It takes care of the scheduling + cancelling policies for me and syncs with my Google Calendar.
- A filing system with one drawer for personal files and one for business files.
- The website IFTTT.com
- Google Calendar alerts for appointments.
- The program “Things” captures all of my ideas and “to dos”.
- Email organization
- Computer file organization
- An organic produce delivery service. My mom just started getting organic vegetables delivered to our house. Now that we have this system/delegation in place, I don’t have to worry so much about what I’m going to eat (especially now that I’ve gone 100% vegan).
Not sure what systems you should invest in?
Make a list of all of the parts of your work (and life) that you love to do. Here’s what mine looks like:
- Editing + revising
- Talking to people
Then, make a list of all of the parts of your work and life that you hate doing. These are the things that you should consider finding systems for or delegate to someone else:
- Grocery shopping
- Enforcing cancellation policies
- Web design
It might not be possible to afford a house cleaner, but there are many solutions for outsourcing scheduling, web design, and finances.
Don't forget! You definitely need systems to sort through these buggers:
- Loose papers on your desk.
- Client documents.
- Business infrastructure documents (your website, marketing, ideas, etc)
- Email inboxes
- Computer files and documents
It’ll take time to find unique approaches to getting everything done in life, but if you do some brainstorming, you’ll surely come up with a few stellar ideas.
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