Goal setting has become de rigueur over the years. Goal-setting webinars, workshops, end-of-year vision boarding sessions, and so on have all become regular fixtures or sights for many of us whether for setting personal or career goals. We typically set goals such as getting a degree, buying a house, relocating, meeting a life partner, landing a promotion, learning a new language and so on. Goals are always a great starting point because they give you something to aim for. I personally love goal setting. I have been setting goals for as long as I can remember. However, that does not mean I necessarily achieve all my goals and meet expectations but I still love writing them out because it helps me stay motivated and encourages me to dream big. The audacity of hope you might say. But the reality is a goal without a plan is just a dream and even if you write down the most ambitious ‘Christmas’ list, it is already doomed no thanks to poor planning. Many of my goals in the past failed for the same reason. Not having an effective plan or system in place to execute the goal. Essentially, the bridge between setting personal or career goals and manifesting them is the Systems you create. The more practical and effective your systems are the more likely you are to realise your goals.

The beauty of Systems is that it makes big goals achievable by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable chunks or tasks. For instance, if you want to run the Boston Marathon, a successful system might involve creating a daily running schedule which starts off with low intensity and builds up over a specified period of time as well as tracking your progress each week. These smaller steps make your end goal feel less overwhelming and more achievable.

With clear instructions and a plan in place, you can avoid wasting time figuring things out on the spot. Systems can help you work more efficiently and get more done in a shorter amount of time.

Systems for Organisation

Clarity and Focus.

Organised systems help you see things clearly and prioritise by focusing on what matters most. It reminds me of cleaning out your workspace or your personal space – the process of decluttering helps energy flow better as you can think more clearly. Your environment has a major effect on your productivity and mindset.

Learn to leverage from tech tools at your disposal. Digital task management tools like Bitrix 24 or Asana can act as your personal organisational tool box. They put everything in one place, making it easy to see all your tasks at once. This way, you can prioritise the important stuff and avoid getting sidetracked by little things

The Getting Things Done (GTD) system, by David Allen, is a popular recipe with three key ingredients for staying focused:

  • Capture Everything: GTD helps you capture all these thoughts in a trusted system, like a to-do list app or a notebook. This “brain dump” prevents important things from slipping through the cracks.
  • Turn Ideas into Action: Once everything’s captured, GTD helps you turn those ideas into actionable steps. It is like breaking down a big recipe into smaller tasks, like chopping vegetables or mixing ingredients. This makes it easier to know what to do next and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Regular Reviews: GTD encourages you to review your list regularly. This ensures you are staying focused on the most important tasks and nothing gets forgotten. I recommend quarterly reviews or bi-annual reviews.
Systems for Efficiency

When you have too many things to attend to, which happens to many of us, you need a system that can help you cope effectively. That is what the Pomodoro Technique does. It is a time management system that breaks down work into focused 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between. Here is how it helps:

  • Laser Focus: Working in short bursts keeps your mind sharp and focused.
  • Beat Burnout: Taking short breaks prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. It’s like giving your brain little mini-vacations throughout the day!

Another useful systems hack is Time blocking which involves filling your calendar with specific time slots dedicated to different activities.

For example, you might block out the first hour of your workday for tackling your most important tasks that require deep focus. Then, you could dedicate the last hour to checking and responding to emails. This way, you avoid distractions and ensure those crucial tasks get done without interruptions.

So, time blocking helps you schedule your work in the same way, ensuring everything gets done efficiently and without feeling overwhelmed.

Systems for Stress Reduction

Organised systems are like having a calming presence in your life. They help eliminate chaos and provide a sense of control, which can significantly reduce stress. When you know exactly where everything is, from important documents to your keys in the morning, it removes the frantic searching and last-minute scrambling that can cause anxiety. Additionally, having a clear plan for the day, like a well-organised to-do list, allows you to approach your tasks with a sense of focus and direction. This not only improves efficiency but also promotes a sense of accomplishment and overall mental well-being.

Daily planners and digital calendars are fantastic tools for organised systems. They help manage your time effectively by scheduling tasks and appointments in one place. This reduces the stress that comes with forgotten deadlines or double-booked commitments. Missing an important meeting or feeling overwhelmed by looming tasks will no longer be what you do! With everything neatly organised in your planner or calendar, you can approach your day with a sense of calm and confidence, knowing exactly what needs to be done and when.

Systems for Management

Making the Most of What You Have.

Management systems are not just about tasks and appointments; they are also about making the most of your valuable resources. This includes your time, money, and even manpower if you have a team.

For instance, budgeting apps like YNAB (You Need a Budget) can be a lifesaver. They help you track your income and expenses, ensuring your hard-earned cash is used wisely. Some people have the feeling of constantly overspending or wondering where their money go each month! With a clear picture of your finances, you can make informed decisions and optimise your spending, ensuring your money goes towards your goals.

Implementing an Agile project management system can enhance resource utilisation. Agile involves breaking projects into small, manageable tasks (sprints) and continuously reviewing progress. This ensures efficient use of time and manpower, as tasks are regularly assessed and adjusted as needed.

Making Smarter Choices.

Management systems are not just about getting things done; they also help you make better decisions. Organised systems provide a clear framework to consider all your options and the potential consequences of each choice.

These systems act like a checklist, ensuring you consider all the relevant factors before making a crucial choice. This structured approach helps you avoid impulsive decisions and ensures you are making well-informed and strategic choices that align with your long-term goals, not just solving immediate problems.

We mentioned that systems provide a framework for making informed decisions. The SWOT analysis is a powerful tool within these systems. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Imagine having a clear picture of your own capabilities (strengths and weaknesses) alongside the potential benefits and challenges (opportunities and threats) that might affect your decision.

The SWOT analysis helps you evaluate all these internal and external factors, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the situation before you proceed.  This way, you can make well-rounded choices that leverage your strengths, address weaknesses, capitalise on opportunities, and mitigate potential threats. It’s like having a map that considers all the terrain before you embark on your journey!

Systems for Performance Tracking

Where there is a useful system to measure your progress, It helps you see how close you are to your goals and identify any areas that might need improvement.

Just like fitness trackers give you feedback on your workouts, good systems provide data to help you constantly improve. By analysing your progress, you can identify areas where you can be more efficient or effective.

Effective systems go a step further with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or OKR (Objectives and Key Results). Imagine having specific benchmarks, like KPIs, to measure your progress more precisely. These are like milestones on your roadmap to success.

Regularly reviewing these KPIs provides valuable insights into your current performance.  Think of it like getting feedback from your coach – you can see what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement. This allows you to identify areas that might need adjustments and ensure your actions are always aligned with your overall goals.

Setting smart goals and objectives that are realistic, measurable and timely provides the framework you need to be successful. OKRs are necessary because it tells you what you need to do to get to where you want to be. Combining OKRs and KPIs is a great way of staying on track.

Systems for Better Workflow

Workflow systems are the secret sauce for delivering consistent, high-quality work. Tried and tested steps undertaken in any process will usually produce quality results, ensuring the outcome is always delivered to a high standard. That is the power of workflow systems!

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a key ingredient in this recipe for consistency. SOPs are like detailed instruction manuals that outline the exact steps for completing a task. In a customer service department, an SOP for handling customer complaints can ensure all employees follow the same steps, resulting in consistent and reliable service. With SOPs in place, everyone on your team, regardless of experience level, can follow the same process, ensuring tasks are done consistently and to a high standard.

This consistency benefits everyone.

Reduced Errors: Clear SOPs minimise the risk of mistakes, leading to fewer errors and higher quality work overall.

Improved Efficiency: Everyone knows what to do and how to do it, which saves time and avoids confusion.

Teamwork and Knowledge Sharing: SOPs act as a shared source of knowledge, making it easier for teams to collaborate and train new members effectively.

Data: By recording and updating essential business knowledge of processes, and procedures there is less likelihood of losing critical information. Time and time again we see loss of critical knowhow thanks to circumstances, eg people leaving, prolonged absence, etc.

Systems for Collaboration

Effective workflow systems are not just improving individual productivity; they are also about teamwork. By having clear processes and shared goals, everyone on your team is on the same page. Project management collaboration tools like Slack, Google and Microsoft Teams facilitate communication and collaboration. These platforms provide a centralised space for sharing updates, coordinating tasks, and ensuring everyone stay informed and aligned. They understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture and can collaborate effectively to achieve common goals.

This can happen in a few ways.

Clear Communication: Defined workflows ensure everyone has a shared understanding of the project and their role within it. This reduces miscommunication and fosters smoother collaboration.

Shared Ownership: When everyone is working towards a common goal, it creates a sense of shared ownership and responsibility. This can lead to increased motivation and better teamwork.

Improved Problem-Solving: By working together and sharing knowledge, teams can tackle challenges more effectively. Workflow systems create a platform for open communication and collaboration, allowing everyone to contribute their ideas and expertise to find the best solutions.

I hope this inspires you to build and develop your systems whilst you continue to set goals.

If you love this week’s edition, I encourage you to like, engage or share. Until next time, keep developing your A-Game.