Systems, Not Tips/Tricks/Hacks, for Life & Business Enhancement
We see these articles and videos all over the place with headlines such as “10 tips for this”, and “five hacks for that”. All these tips and tricks.
The thing is, tips and tricks and hacks don’t work when you’re trying to change something significant in your life or your business.
It takes systems, comprehensive systems — well thought-out from beginning to end as to how each component integrates with the others.
A quick hack, a quick tip, a quick hit here and there isn’t going make any meaningful difference. Stop looking for a silver bullet in an endless stream of list-articles.
That’s not how it gets done, that’s not how we solve the big problems.
If it’s something meaningful in your life, if you really need to make a change — whether it’s productivity, or health and fitness, or diet or anything significant — none of these quick tips and hacks are going to do it. The key is systems and processes.
You need to sit down and map out how you’re currently doing things, then identify what’s not working and what would be an ideal goal — what do you want to happen that’s not happening?
Deliberately design your systems and processes, look at what can be removed, what could be enhanced, what you need to refine to get there faster.
Then examine the entire process and start removing parts and rearranging elements. Really look at what you’re doing step-by-step. Look for ways to batch things together that are done in the same location or could be done at the same time using the same tools to enhance efficiency so you’re not constantly starting up and getting out tools or equipment, or going back and forth to different locations. You want to batch those things together.
Tools can help with this. It could be as simple as a piece of paper; you don’t need much. Digital cloud tools like Trello or Notion or Airtable can take this to a higher level and are ideal when multiple people are involved. Trello is the classic, and in some ways, it’s still unbeatable. For routine processes, Process St. is a great choice that can enable sophisticated automation.
Whether you’re making a list in any of these new tools or just on a piece of paper, sequence everything you’re doing and then think about how to enhance the overall system. Consider how changing one element impacts the others. Think about the time each step takes, keep a running tally of the total time throughout the process. When you try a quick tip or a quick hack on its own, it might improve one part by shortchanging something else, you need to watch the big picture. When you map things out together and you look at all the components and how they interact, that’s how you make a fundamental and dramatic change — and how you get things done.
This is an iterative process. Revisit to refine after you’ve made the changes and tried the new system. What’s working? What’s not? You’re perpetually testing the system as a whole, each new day is an experiment.
If some steps in the process have similar setups or locations or perhaps the same team member, then find ways to have these elements batched together. Whenever possible, have pre-assembled stations to do routine process components to minimize setup and cleanup time — even across different systems or processes that might seem unrelated. For example, I do talking head videos regularly on productivity and efficiency systems, as well as for my unrelated advanced technology show, so I have a station for that setup and ready to go and I do all of them together; I just sit down and hit record. I have another station always setup for a more formal type of video for my workshops and classes; that’s also set up and ready to go with almost no setup.
Preset stations make the work quick, efficient, and consistent from one week to another. It also give you a better idea of how long it’s going to take, and is less of a psychological barrier to get started when the setup is already in place.
Pre-setting the stage should be done not only in a physical locations but also digitally in software. Create pre-formatted templates in every instance that formatting or organization is required to start a routine task. Minimize the setup for everything, shorten the task, and reduce the psychological barrier to get started.
To recap, analyze what you’re doing comprehensively, map it out, define your goal, define where you are then look at the gap between the two — and ask what’s going to get you there, what’s going close that gap. Look for what you can modify across the whole process flow, not just a one step.
Ignore articles teasing the quick fix, and look at how you can have templates and physical stations pre-set so that you can dive-in with minimal friction. Get more done as you work with well-designed systems that you have deliberately refined.