Armed with an obsessive love of color-coding and all things related to organization, I’m on a mission to help you maximize efficiency in your business and life so you can spend time on what matters most to you.
Equally right and left-brained, I’m that unique business owner who can think like a creative, but act like an administrator. This blog is where you’ll see me bring that dual-brained magic to life, taking the left-brain side of life and breaking it down for your right-brained self.
Routines, systems, processes, workflows… if you’ve been around the online entrepreneurial space for even five minutes, I can almost guarantee you’ve heard people talk about how important these things are in your business.
The thing is, routines don’t come naturally to everyone. This can be especially true for the more creative and “type B” personalities.
Now I know that every personality type is unique and you may not have the same obsessive desire to color code everything possible like I do… but no matter who you are, no matter how creative you are, you need routines in your business.
Ready for new flash that just might totally blow your mind? Systems and routines are the same thing.
Yep. You read that right.
I know it can get confusing when people talk about those things like they’re interchangeable, but it’s because they pretty much are. They’re also basically the same thing as processes and workflows.
Not so convinced? Well, let’s see what good ‘ole Merriam-Webster has to say about it.
A routine is “a regular course of procedure.” A system is “an organized or established procedure.” A process is “a series of actions or operations conducting to an end.” And a workflow is “the sequence of steps involved in moving from the beginning to the end of a working process.”
In short, a routine… system… process… workflow… whatever the heck you want to call it is basically how and when you do things, defined.
Generally, you’ll use the terms process and workflow more often when it comes to something that produces a desired result — the writing of a blog post, the creation of a product, or the providing of a service — while the terms routine and system are applied a bit more broadly to how you do, well, pretty much anything.
Now here’s another newsflash that may be a little mind blowing — no matter how creative you consider yourself, you have a routine.
It may not be a good one, a helpful one, or a streamlined one, but you do have a routine for how you do things in your life and your business.
By this point you’re probably like, “Alright, alright, Sarah. We get it. Routines are systems, systems are routines. But why do I need them?”
Perhaps a better title for this would be “Why Streamlined Routines Are Important” because, like I just said, you do have a routine or system for how you do things in your life and your business — even if that routine is to totally wing it and figure things out as you go along.
Like I said… the routine may not be good, helpful, or streamlined, but it does exist.
So why, even if you pride yourself on your free spiritedness and laissez-faire approach to life, are routines important for your business?
I’m not even going to pretend to know all of the actual science and psychology behind this, but I do know from reading and personal experience that our brains prioritize repetition and routine.
Ever done something through pure muscle memory? Or driven somewhere on autopilot, not really paying attention to where you were going?
Those are just a couple of examples of how our brains prioritizes repetition. It’s how we form habits, both good and bad. The more you do something, the easier it is to do it the next time and the next and the next after that.
If you do things enough times, your brain literally forms a path and walks down it naturally. This is great if the neural pathway you’ve created is a good one, but not so great if it isn’t!
No matter who you are and no matter what kind of business you run, you’ve probably wished for more time at some point in your life… maybe even just this morning.
And though we’ve all seen that ridiculous meme that says you have the same number of hours in your day as Beyoncé, we also know that while that’s technically true, circumstances and resources are a bit different.
But one simple way to start getting back some of that time? Establishing routines.
It sounds super simple, but it’s true. When you establish a routine for the things you do in your business, it ultimately saves you time because you don’t have to think about what comes next, you already have it listed out.
Plus, as you continue to put your routines into practice, your brain will begin prioritizing that repetition and you’ll ultimately become faster and better at whatever it is you’re doing!
Whether you’re a service or product-based business owner, we all want to give our clients and customers an incredible experience and routines are one of the best ways to do that.
By defining and establishing a routine (or system, your choice) for how you work with clients or how you serve your customers, you elevate their experience to a higher level. It’s no longer haphazard, slapped together, or a hot mess behind-the-scenes.
Instead, all of your clients are able to receive the same care and attention to detail that gives them confidence in what you do, the product you create or service you’re providing, and will ultimately lead to those rave reviews that bring them back again and again or send referrals your way.
I can almost guarantee that in all the conversation about systems and routines, you’ve heard at least someone talk about how they’re essential for business growth. You may have rolled your eyes at them, but it’s absolutely true.
Why? Well, let’s think of an example.
Say you want to hire someone to join your team to save you time in your workday and open up opportunities for working with more clients/customers and bringing in more revenue. This could be hiring a shop assistant to package and ship orders so you can focus on creating new products or maybe a virtual assistant to schedule social media and manage your inbox so you can focus on serving your amazing clients.
Now, imagine this assistant shows up — physically or virtually — to their first day of work. You assign them a task and their first question, as you might expect is, “How do we do this?”
If you have defined routines or systems, the answer is easy. You can tell them the exact step-by-step process to package an order or respond to emails so the experience is the same as it would be if you were handling everything personally. Or, better yet, you can provide them a documented tutorial that walks them step-by-step through the process and they can come to you for any clarification questions. If you don’t have defined routines or systems, the answer is a bit harder.
When you’re flying by the seat of your pants and figuring things out on the fly, no team member, no matter how incredible they are is going to be able to help you in your business.
This hinders your growth because it means you’re wasting their time and ultimately wasting your money.
This is why the first step to growing your business is to define and streamline the routines and systems within your business.
Our brains are pretty incredible things and can hold a ton of information, but we all have our limits. And if you’re constantly keeping your brain filled to the brim with all of the little things that have to happen in your life and business, you’re never going to have space for the important, life and business changing stuff.
Whether you’re in solopreneur land and perfectly content to stay there, or your big dream is to one day fully step into the CEO/visionary role within your business and leave the day-to-day stuff to an incredible team, routines help you make space for the stuff that really matters.
When you have a monthly duty day or a routine for creating content on a regular basis, you’re able to release the subconscious stress of ensuring all the things that need to happen in your business are actually happening.
No more waking up in the middle of the night freaking out because you didn’t pay your quarterly taxes or forgot to send an email to a client.
One of the ways to ensure your routines free up even more brain space? Documenting them.
Sir Albert Einstein once said, “Never memorize anything you can look up.”
If there are things you have to do every day, week, month, quarter, or year in your business, write them down!!
There’s no reason for a process that happens over and over and over again to take up precious space in your brain, especially if it’s a lengthy one, when that space could be used instead to create something incredible and new that will serve your clients and customers in unbelievable ways.
Feeling like your systems and routines are a little out of whack… or totally nonexistent? This is totally my jam and I’d love to get you streamlined and ready to up your game in the months to come. I’m now booking projects for Q1 in 2019, so send me a note to book your spot today!
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