There’s a System for That

Do you suffer from any of the following:

  • A cluttered house
  • Forgetting important dates or events
  • An out of control email in box
  • Not knowing what you need when you’re at the grocery store until AFTER you get home
  • A car full of junk
  • Not knowing where you put your keys
  • Forgetting the login and password you picked for a specific website

If so, it may be the result of not having systems in place for certain areas of your life.  What I mean by a system is simply a set of behaviors you regularly perform for a specific situation.  Here’s what a system might look like in a real-life scenario.

Let’s say my house is always cluttered and messy, which causes me to feel frustrated.  A system for keeping my house from being cluttered would involve adopting and maintaining behaviors like:

  • Assigning a specific place for each of my items
  • When I’m done using something, instead of laying it on the first convenient place I can think of, I will put it where it belongs (e.g. Dishwasher, laundry bin, closed, garbage, recycle, closet, etc.)
  • I will regularly go through my things and get rid of anything that I no longer use so that my house stays free from unneeded items.

A system like this identifies clear behaviors that will yield the outcome you desire.

When I don’t have systems in place, or don’t follow the systems I do have, I tend to do what’s most convenient at the time.  Operating by convenience rather than by established systems tends to cause parts of my life to feel out of control and chaotic.  Without specific systems in place, anything goes!  Clothes go on the floor, dishes stay in the sink, and important things become forgotten or left undone.

Do you have areas in your life that would benefit from some new systems?  If so, start with just one area you’d like to improve and do the following:

  • Envision the outcome you want
  • Create a system of behavior that will achieve that outcome
  • Work the system

Chaos and disorder are almost always the result of a system that needs to be put into place or a bad system that needs to be revamped.  Start adding systems to your life to remove chaos and disorder and begin enjoying a less stressful existence.

 

 

Great Idea! Now What?

In a previous post I wrote how your head was a great place for having ideas, but a lousy place for keeping them.  This is because it’s so easy to lose ideas in the constant clutter of thoughts going on in our heads.  This week, I’d like share some actions we can take when we come up with a good idea, to ensure they are not forgotten.

First, create a system for capturing ideas.  With the digital revolution in full swing, there are several electronic options to quickly capture the idea written down.  These can include:

  • An audio recording
  • An email or text to yourself
  • An electronic list
  • A smartphone app designed for taking notes
  • Pictures taken with smartphone

Since most folks have a smartphone on or near them at all times, it makes sense that this would be a good tool to use to capture ideas.  However, we shouldn’t discount “old-school” mediums such:

  • Notebooks
  • Whiteboards
  • Sticky notes
  • Journals

What I have found is that I usually rely on a couple different methods for capturing ideas.  I think it’s important to settle on 2-3 preferred methods that work for you, because having too many ways of capturing ideas can lead to clutter and cause ideas that get lost.

Next, after you’ve developed a system for capturing your ideas, create a system to consolidate all your ideas.  By this, I mean taking all the ideas you had and placing them in a consistent location so they are easy to locate in the future.  Again, this collection could be a digital or an old-school method.  Just pick a one that works for you and make sure consolidating the ideas you’ve captured becomes part of your daily routine.

Finally, the most important step you can take after capturing and consolidating your ideas is to develop a plan to take action on your highest priority ideas.  If you’re like me, most of your ideas won’t be any good.  However, when you do have an idea that is good and you want to implement, do something that reminds you to put your idea into action.  For me, that often looks like setting a reminder in my smart phone to alert me at a certain date and time when I will be in a position to take action on my idea.

There are several methods that can be used to capture, consolidate, and act on your ideas.  The important point is to have specific methods at each step so you’ll be able to put your ideas into actions.  Actions that could potentially change your life.

Without a plan to do something with the ideas we have, they are often relegated to being just ghosts of ideas that disappear soon after we have them.  It’s time to start collecting and acting on the treasure of ideas our minds so often provide