Setting goals (both personally and professionally) drove me crazy until I found a daily approach that moves me little by little toward my goals. It’s become a system, a process. Honestly, I’ve come to appreciate systems for more than just my small business. These systems give me the capacity to spend more time and energy on what I love, knowing I’m making progress towards the big goals.

Systems > Goals

Numerous Psychology Today articles cite that systems, rather than goals, have the ability to increase happiness in the long run. Neuroscience research shows that our brains are resistant to behavioral changes that must occur in order for us to achieve a goal. So what does work? Well, studies show that our brains like to inch towards goals with slow-and-steady methodical systems. Rather than focusing on the end result, we’re happiest when we approach a task with small, buildable systems that allow us to experience multiple victories along the way.

Whether it’s workplace hacks or home systems to tick off laundry and meal planning, author Dragan Sutevski notes how systematic approaches help produce the same, quality results each time and reduce expenses.

How to Create Systems

In a nutshell, systems allow you to operate at work and at home in a way that produces consistency and efficiency. To start, document what works in your daily routine, and identify the best practices for any given task. Then, gather the necessary input on your system from trusted coworkers and/or family members. With this information, ask yourself the following: What steps could be eliminated? What could be done better? What do I want to achieve? Finally, note the whole procedure from beginning to end with granular steps.

Tools to Store Systems

It’s not realistic to think that the heavy project management systems used by large corporations are practical for your small business. But, iPhone notes and Google Drive documents don’t adequately get the job done. So here are the useful middle ground tools we’ve found for storing systems:

Trello
Are you a visual learner? Imagine having a large wall of sticky notes outlining your ideas, tasks and projects. With ease, you could add, throw away and rearrange the stickies to your liking. That’s Trello. This platform allows you to create running columns of notes in order to organize tasks, projects, systems and to do lists.

Asana
Two former Facebook employees created Asana as a beneficial tool for small teams that tracks projects from start to finish. Like Trello, Asana gives you the option to “duplicate” a project, which means every step within your system (that you worked so hard to hash out!) is maintained.

Pancacke
Need a simple systems software for work with time tracking abilities built in? Look no further than Pancake, where you can onboard clients and take them through your system from proposal to payment.

Basecamp
This app claims clients from Etsy to NASA, and rightfully so. Basecamp’s approachable interface is designed for teams and groups to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. It’s best utilized for systems implemented by large teams.

In the midst of the summer slowdown, take advantage of these resources and be intentional to establish systems that will allow you to remain disciplined.

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