Want to get some time back? Systematise your life or your business.
McDonald’s are able to employ students with little work experience to cook burgers and fries that always look and taste the same. I know, I worked there when I was 16.
How do they do it? By turning the job of making burgers and fries into a system supported by standard equipment and processes.
So, let’s say you’re the one making the fries. The fryer is automatically set up so that when you put a standard bag potatoes in the hot oil, they cook for a set time. Then the fryer beeps. You don’t have to know how many potatoes to put in and you don’t have to know how long to keep them in.
The only thing you have to know if how much small and big fries weight which they teach you on your first day – also they go in standard containers. They even make you weight your first few batches so that you get to tell without having to use the scales.
What has this got to do with my life or business?
The benefit of having a system is that it takes the thinking out of the equation so you can just follow the instructions without wondering what you should be doing. For McDonald’s this allows them to hire unskilled workers and keep their cost down. For you, this means getting rid of menial tasks and having more time to do something creative.
Here are 3 ways you could apply these concepts to your life and business.
1. Have a plan
In my view, a plan is a system. It’s a custom system for each project but it’s a system nevertheless. When you have a clear plan with tasks, resources and dates, you don’t have to ask yourself what you will do next. You pull your plan out and you follow it.
Yes, of course, don’t follow it blind. You need to regularly review your plan and take the time to produce a good one. But do have one. It will save you time and money because you will have thought things true before you start, anticipated the issues you’re going to have, booked your resources and made sure you focused on the right stuff.
Need to learn how to plan? Check out my How to Plan ebook.
2. Find some repetitive tasks and automate them
Think like a big business and ask yourself: what repetitive tasks could I automate with technology? There are just so many examples that I will dedicate a post just to that (watch this space) but for now, here’s an example from my own life.
I have to food shop for 6 people every week. As I like to cook, the meals do vary but this tends to be at weekends. Weekdays, we’re all busy, so the meals tend to be quick and pretty similar. And all the drinks, cleaning items, breakfast foods, snacks are ALWAYS the same (unless the kids suddenty discover a new thing – TV often to blame here).
Putting a list together and going to the shops takes a lot of time so I’ve systematised the part of the food shop that is always the same. I use a well known UK online shop where my list is built for me based on previous choices and my food is ordered automatically every Saturday. It also gets delivered on the same day at the same time each week. And I’ve hired by own teenager do deal with this. All I have to do is review the order which is a lot easier than inputting the items one by one over and over again.
What area of your life or business is repetitive and could be automated?
3. And here are some examples for a small business
If you haven’t done this already, standardise and automate whatever has to do with money and accounting. I use a standard spreadsheet to record all the money that comes in and goes out. This spreadsheet is automated so that my accountant can use it to produce my end of year accounts. It also allows me to calculate how much tax I owe and to plan accordingly.
I have set everything up so that I can have access to my emails and key documents from anywhere using any of my devices: computer, iPad, iPhone, etc. This means I can manage my business from wherever I am and I don’t have to copy files over from one device to another. My personal stuff is also set up this way and I can manage our family’s affairs from a beach if I want to.
It’s not all perfect yet but it’s pretty good. I currently have a challenge around note taking. My notes are all over the place and it’s starting to grind me down because I can’t find anything. So I’ve started investigating how to systematise my notes taking and filing and Evernote seems like a good app.
That’s the other good thing, there is so much free software out there and quite a few bloggers advising on productivity. So, it’s actually fairly easy to figure out what to use.
What could you do with systemising? Leave a comment.
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