By: Tricia Stefankiewicz (keywords: self-improvement, self-care)
What is a system?
A System is a Framework or method of doing something; it’s a routine and flow of how things are done. They are typically in a sequence of steps that streamline a task and bring direction to the process.
A system is a method of how you do something. Everything in life is a system. In your own life, you have a process of how you get things done. This could include the details of how you clean or prepare food for your family. When it comes to health, wellness, and self-care – it does not happen magically because we want it to. We talk about wanting to make a behavior change and lament how to make the habit stick. Behavior change requires a system, or a series of steps, that practiced repeatedly lead to the desire result. It’s typically an intentional system that may take some time up front to establish a system but then will be easier once it is set up, ends up taking much less time in the long run.
An example of a systems is online grocery delivery or pick-up. It takes a considerable amount of time in the beginning finding all your food staples and creating a list that can be used each time you log on. But, once it’s completed, each time you log on, it takes considerably less time.
Why do you need a system?
Systems save time, money, and energy. No change is going to happen unless you have the steps you need to make the change. A lot of times we fail at achieving something because we don’t have the process in place to make it happen. Systems show the steps you need to make the change and thereby create a habit and lead to long term behavior change. Systems are not a one size fits all kind of process. Typically, different systems for different people. Systems provide organization and help decrease the juggle of a task that needs to be complete.
My son had a very hard time getting out the door each morning and subsequently I would end up crying in my car after I dropped him off a daycare, late for work once again and completely drained from the morning struggle. I had some steps in place that seemed to work but they didn’t all fit together in a way that seemed to work or make my life easier. For the next few weeks, I would repeat the steps that worked but then change and the ones that didn’t. I now have a system and process that seems to work filled with stars and charts, and my son knowing what the next step is without feeling surprised.
The morning is so much smoother and is even filled with calmness and smiles. The process required a lot of time up front but now each day is so much easier and takes a lot less time than if I had not implemented the system up front. This routine will likely change as my son grows up, but at least I now have a bit more knowledge and foundation of what works for our family.
What systems do you have in place?
Is there something you do regularly that really works for your family and your life? It could be something related to your email, finances, or self-care process. Does the system fit your life or is it too complicated to work consistently for you? What are you not staying on top of or feel like you are failing at each week? Morning routine, Laundry, grocery shopping, bills, payments, kids off to school, deleting old emails?
Where to start with creating a system?
Where in your life are you finding the biggest problem that you have been unable to solve? Let’s look at what is solving a problem for a system to be effective. Is there something that you do that kind of works but maybe needs a little tweaking to make it work better? Can any of these tasks be automated or delegated to someone else?
In my life, I have used a mommy’s helper to help in the past with dishes, laundry, and taking care of my son. After constantly failing at being consistent with cleaning, I finally broke down and hired a house cleaner to come bi-weekly and help keep me on track. It eliminates time on the weekend normally spent cleaning which can now be spent doing other tasks that need to be completed. I realized I need to give my self more time. NO amount of prioritizing was going to give me more time than someone doing the task for me.
How to Create a system:
Right now, what is the biggest problem that needs to be solved in your life?
Write down the steps that you take right now to solve the problem. Are there parts of the system that work? Parts that need tweaking or need to be eliminated all together?
Can any of it be automated? Can you have your groceries delivered or ready for pick up? Can you have your bills, direct deposit, or savings automated? For email management, utilize a tool such as unroll.me.
Can you explore digital or old-fashioned tools to help you? Can you use a paper and pen planner or digital calendar to keep tracks of weekly tasks, obligations, when bills are due?
Can you delegate? Can you hire a mother’s helper to help with household chores? A cleaning lady? A tutor that can help with your children’s homework. A college student to spend some time with your kids so that you can have some time by yourself.
Start with the biggest problem you have and then once you can solve that, move onto more problems you discover. Start simply. Pick the one area you struggle with the most. As you practice and get better, add a new system. It won’t be perfect. My systems are still in work in progress and am still working on them to make them consistent. Know that over time or with different seasons in your life, these systems may change and that’s OK. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about 1% better each day.