Thursday, September 11, 2008

Systems = Freedom

Many creatives think they can only be creative if they are free and unstructured. But most of us have come to realize that there must be some kind of process and systems in place so you can really do what needs to be done to create and be productive.
Coach Laura Howard West says it sooooo well in her article Systems = Freedom.
((Laura will also be a guest on The Organizing Playground radio/podcast on Sept. 23, 2008)

Systems = Freedom!
By Laura Howard West
Center for Joyful Business, http:/

I have a sticky note in my office that says "Systems = Freedom". I have become an avid fan of systems. I used to be rebellious of systems as though they would take away all my creativity and spontaneity. What I have found is that they give me the freedom to be creative, enjoy life and it keep me enjoying my business! Nothing is worse than waking up one day and realizing that you've created a successful business but it's over taken your life and you are afraid you can't maintain all these great marketing vehicles. We've all faced that - gotten caught up in the excitement of launching a new newsletter, blog or podcast only to realize that we have to keep it going for it to have real impact!

Here are five reasons for you to embrace the idea of looking for and commiting the initial time to develop systems:

1. To Grow Your Business You Have to Grow Your Capacity

This is a fundamental truth. If you want to grow bigger - more clients, sell more products, work with larger more high paying clients - then you have to increase your capacity to get more done in less time. This doesn't mean that you personally have to learn to do more work. The first place to start is being willing to look at the areas in your business, specific projects, tasks and the giant never-ending-to-do list and see what you can delegate and what you can let go of. Many people get stuck right here because they aren't willing to let go. I can guarantee if you don't let go - you won't grow!

2. Creating Systems Gives You Valuable Creative Time

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is they don't have enough time to write the article, the book or the create their new information product. When you create systems for those things you do over and over again, you free up time which you can use for getting those creative projects done. For example, I have a lot of clients who start out creating their own newsletter. They are doing the graphics, the layout, finding the photos and writing the articles. They are struggling with making things fit and the layout looking professional. This could easily become a full day project. If you spend all your time here you'll run out of steam for finding inspiration to write the article! It actually depletes your energy, and it will keep you chained to your computer doing routine work instead of getting you out there thinking about and creating that new product! You want to be doing work that keeps your energy flowing!

3. Systems Give You More Time for "Focus and Flow"

Every morning I spend reflection time on my day and my business. I lovingly call it "Creative Bagel Time" as I get the boys off to school and then head to one of the local cafes or bakeries for some inspiration time (with or without bagels!). You might wonder why as a busy mom-preneur who does most of my work from the bus pickup time to the bus dropoff time, that I can afford the time reflecting over cream cheese and tea? I can tell you that this morning time is invaluable to me in helping me get so much done in a few short hours. I consciously line up my energy behind what's important about my day. I review my Intention Cards so I'm connecting to my bigger vision and then I create my 3 Daily Giggle Goals so my energy is focused for the day and then I let go and let it flow! I am able to do this because I make the morning time a "system" - I have a special bag for my "Focus and Flow" time, I block it out on my calendar in the mo rning and I protect this time (which is a calendar system) so that I have dedicated time to line up my energy for me and my business several times a week. The power that comes from this "focused energy" helps me get more done in less time - certainly more than if I went straight for my computer and sat there all day trying to push a lot of work around.

4. Systems Allow You To Enthusiastically Take Time Off

By creating systems for handling billing, the administrative work, my podcast interviews, and my blog postings, I can comfortably and enthusiastically (meaning without a ton of stress that my business will fall apart without me!) take time off and enjoy life. In fact, my husband and I are on a 10 day trip to England to visit his family as you read this. I can sit back and enjoy because I know that my marketing is still getting done and is consistently getting out there - in fact, this newsletter is set to go out while I'm away! All because of using technology systems and creating systems with my team who are clear about what to do and when.

5. Systems Give You Time to Grow and Learn Without Being Stressed

Look at what you do consistently, over and over again. Chances are there is a way to create a template, a form, or a system for recycling your information into new formats that will free you up to have more time to attend workshops and mastermind groups so that you are continuing to grow personally and professionally. Better yet, work with your team to create the systems so everything flows quicker and more smoothly. Then book time to spend on you and nurturing your brilliance. As you grow - your business grows!

Written by Laura Howard West, Center for Joyful Business, http:/

Laura West is an award-winning online entrepreneur and president of The Center for Joyful Business. If you are ready to shift your marketing and mindset for more success with joy and ease, get your free report: Business Attraction Success Kit