I think in another life, I was a computer coder. My mind tends to work like a flow chart. I naturally break things into “If this, then that” sets of rules.
If I finish this block of work early, then I’ll go for a walk…
If I get a response from this warm email, then I’ll move the contact into my monthly mailing list…
If I didn’t work out yesterday, then I will work out today…
I tend to set up systems without thinking about it. My brain just spins them out. But I’ve never fully embraced systems because I also have a tendency to abandon them quickly in favor of the next system my mind decides to come up with.
Once I have a good system in place — or at least good on paper — it seems like I can’t help but start looking at other options to see if I can’t come up with a better system.
It’s a bad habit.
One that I’m trying to break because fully embracing systems can be so powerful.
When you have a system in place for handling certain kinds of work, a lot of good things happen.
You know what to do next because your actions are predefined. This makes it easier to get into the flow of work without warming up. It also makes it easier to transition between tasks because you know the transition is coming.
And once you’ve tested a system and used it a few times, you know how well it works. So, you can proceed with confidence.
The main downside of systems is that it’s easy to get too rigid or detailed with them, which can be counterproductive.
Embracing systems will help you get things done quickly, in a proven way, without compromising quality. Without some flexibility, though, they can have the opposite effect.
So, what makes for a good system?
In a larger business, systems might have many people involved. But in your freelance business, a system is likely to just involve you. Which is nice — it means you can set up your systems exactly how you want.
To put together a good system, you first need a clearly defined goal — growing your network, generating leads, landing projects, meeting deadlines, writing a blog post, having a productive day…
Then, you need to map out your best-known way of achieving that goal. Keep it as simple as possible. And build in flexibility. For example, if you have a system that lets you complete a blog post in two hours on average, include in your system how you’ll handle it when things take longer.
Review the system periodically. Look for ways to improve it. But don’t abandon it completely unless it’s consistently not delivering.
Systems are a great way to stay on track with your business, to make steady progress toward your goals, and to get more good work done in less time. But make sure your systems are serving your goals and that you give them time to work.
New on the Site
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Writing blog posts for your clients can result in a steady, ongoing gig… which means money you can count on every month. Here, you’ll find some tips and examples to help you improve your blog-writing skills.
The internet is full of product pages. Just about every e-commerce company has a product page for every product in their catalog. That’s a lot of pages! And a lot of opportunity for you as a writer. Try your hand at writing a product page with our current Practice Assignment.
Mark Your Calendar
November 21: Any time you sit down to write, you are writing to someone. Not a group of people — an individual. That may seem obvious, but online, it can be easy to forget. The better you know the person you’re writing to, the better your writing will be. During a live webinar this week, I share some methods you can use to get to know your audience on a deeper level. Join us!
Around the Web
You’ll find some great tips here about streamlining your process as a freelancer… a great way to keep your clients happy (and a good tie-in with my talk about systems).
Keeping track of opens and click-throughs for your email marketing efforts makes sense, but make sure you don’t overlook these more meaningful measures of success.
What good is content if no one sees it? Moz shows you how to take your content distribution plan to the next level.
And here, you’ll find some great ideas for getting yourself in front of people who will hire you and pay you well.
That’s all for now. Make it a great week!