How many of us blame ourselves for our lack of productivity and feelings of overwhelm? I'm not talking about the times we know it's our fault because we didn't put in a sincere effort. (And we know darn well when we didn't!) I'm talking about the times we genuinely tried, but things still didn't turn out as we expected.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming, an American engineer and management consultant, claims 94% of most productivity problems and possibilities for improvement belong to the system, not the individual.
James Clear, author of the bestselling book Atomic Habits, says, "You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."
But what the heck is a system?
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as "a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized framework or method." And James Clear states, "Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there."
Productive Environment Institute uses the acronym SYSTEM: Saving You Space Time Energy & Money™. And it fits almost any situation.
Why should you care?
Let's apply this to a simple everyday life example, presuming you do your laundry occasionally. In reality, doing your laundry is a collection of procedures, likely to include:
Simple, right? Of course, there are additional steps once the wash cycle is complete, but you get the idea. Now, consider what would happen if you didn't follow the process in the order above. Instead, you did this:
Your outcome would be very different and not what you wanted. Your clothes aren't clean, and you'll have to start all over again if you're going to get them clean. In the meantime, you've wasted time, energy, and money, not to mention resources like water and electricity.
But suppose it happened because you didn't know the process. Or you're in a trial-and-error phase to determine the best approach. You won't gain anything by blaming yourself. Reevaluate, adjust accordingly, and repeat as many times as necessary.
Now consider how this applies in the context of work. You have to have a system that effectively allows you to handle every piece of information entering your office. And these days, that information can come from so many places - colleagues dropping information on your desk, snail mail, voice mail, email (and their attachments), instant messaging, notes you take during meetings, calendar reminders, etc.
If you don't know how to handle all of it, you will waste countless hours and perpetuate incredible stress. You may feel like your office, your desk and your computer are a disaster. You may have feelings of hopelessness, and it can affect all areas of your life. That is why you should care about systems.
None of us is perfect, thank goodness! How boring would life be without our quirks and differences? Instead of blaming ourselves for an undesired outcome, let's turn attention to our systems (or lack of them.) It may take time to determine the right path for you, but it will be worth every bit of effort in the end.
What systems do you have in place to handle the information coming into your office? Complete a Productive Environment scorecard at www.newpathpro.com/scorecard and schedule a complimentary Office Transformation Game Plan™ session with me. You’ll walk away from the session with three things you can do right now to reclaim your time and reduce your stress so you can enjoy life.
SYSTEM: Saving You Space Time Energy & Money™ and Office Transformation Game Plan™ ©2005-2021 Productive Environment Institute | Used under license to Kathy Muzik