(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. You can find Part 2 here.)

Recently you’ve likely driven a car, visited a restaurant, grocery store, dry cleaner, or pharmacy and benefitted from the systems embedded in each. Equally likely, you didn’t give these systems much thought. Since the more effective systems are, the less we notice them.

Life Without Systems

But imagine the stress and danger of driving without any signs, lights, lanes, or intersections to guide traffic. Consider how and when you would decide to purchase gas if your car didn’t have a gas gauge to track its capacity. Picture your hopeless confusion visiting a retailer without any logical system for finding their products or processing your purchase.

Who Wants the Hassle?

Despite our awareness of the value systems provide, we often resist creating them for ourselves, especially systems for managing commitments. Such systems may seem a bit tedious, something better left for business types, detail-oriented people, and lists fanatics.

Common Fears Associated with Systems:

  • Zaps my freedom—too rigid
  • Eats away my already scarce time—tedious preparation
  • Imposes tyranny—living by to-do lists
  • Requires tech savvy—always something new to learn
  • Kills spontaneity—driven by a structured schedule
  • Rules! Rules! Rules!

Your Hesitation is Valid

I get it! Spontaneity and flexibility are crucial to your work, which requires significant thinking, focus, and even creativity. All these require time and often big blocks of time. Time to clear your head, review where you last left off, and make forward progress. Plus, when the ideas and inspiration are flowing, you want to be able to keep going.

Dream Up A Magical Possibility

For a moment set aside these real fears and do some dreaming.

Close your eyes.

Snap your fingers.

Instantly, a personal assistant appears! You know, the kind of personal assistant (maybe even chief of staff) reserved for high-level CEOs and heads of state.

This personal assistant would manage all your commitments, capture your ideas and to-dos, prioritize your long-term projects as well as guide you in daily decision making. Relish a moment in the thought of this miraculous gift facilitating spontaneity and freedom. Allow yourself to see available time emerge, time you could devote to valuable pursuits that could catapult your career or open far more time for your personal life.

Return to Reality

I’m definitely not promising a genie in a bottle who could become your personal assistant. But when you can really grasp the benefits a personal assistant offers; you’re grasping the possibilities a personal workflow system could deliver.

Major difference between the two?

YOU create and manage the personal workflow system while the personal assistant offers the done FOR you model. And the personal assistant is FAR more expensive!

Workflow Systems—Simple, Flexible, Accommodate Complexity

The best workflow systems are simple, flexible, and accommodate complexity. Consider the trend over the last decade of fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle.

The fast-casual system is simple. You choose your:

  • Container
  • Rice and beans
  • Protein & veggies
  • Sauces
  • Drink and chips or not
  • Then Pay!

Simple, easy to follow, and yet imagine the voluminous combinations such a simple, flexible system makes possible to accommodate many individual preferences.

Personal Workflow System

Fast-casual offers a great illustration but remember your personal workflow system won’t need to accommodate the volume of users Chipotle does. Plus, your personal workflow system won’t need to make sense to anyone else—only you.

A personal workflow system is a systematic set of tools and habits applied effectively to facilitate your success and create peace of mind in the process.

The tools are enormously flexible—all analog, all digital, or more commonly a mixture of both. Best of all you choose the tools that fit your style.

You only need to create and practice a few habits to make maintaining a system simple!

Personal Workflow System—Who Needs One?

Personal workflow systems are for people who have a wide range of commitments and enjoy a flexible schedule for meeting them. Remember, chaos thrives when you have much to accomplish and your time is unstructured.

Yes, that describes realtors, traveling sales reps, private practice lawyers, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home parents, and others. But college faculty are the textbook case for having flexible schedules with many varied responsibilities. In fact, the public at times ridicules the flexible schedule of educators, which generally means they don’t understand the part about many, wide-ranging responsibilities.

If you’re an academic with that enviable flexible schedule and this personal workflow system appeals to you, then I’ve got great news! My TAME the Chaos digital course is all about creating this powerful personal workflow system! Join the waitlist so you’ll be the first to get all the information about when this course comes out in early Fall!

 Photo by andrew jay on Unsplash