Monday, January 26, 2009

Get the system in place

So January has been about laying the foundation to launch your goals for 2009. This is about more than new year's resolutions. It is about actually creating an environment where you can reach your goals and build your business.

Today I'm focusing on the need to build systems in to your business.

What do I mean by a system. Well, when I go through coaching with my students we sometimes really dig in to the meat of this [depending on their own goals] but for today we're simply going to focus on the need for small systems.

The most basic system is your schedule.

I was recently reading a post by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, where he gave the flow chart for his productivity. As with every new innovation, I always try it for a month or so before I share it with my readers. This goes back to the credibility I blogged about last week. I don't recommend things to earn an affiliate fee. I don't promote things for my own gain. When I tell you about something it is because I know it works. When I know it works I feel comfortable putting my name to it and sharing it with you.

So, in the final week of January I'm going to share how I've increased my productivity in January.

1. Upgrade my to-do list. I have ALWAYS been a paper and pencil kinda gal. I have to write everything down because my scribbles and shorthand take too long to reproduce on a computer. After reading Michael Hyatt's blog posting about how he manages his day I realized the potential of using Microsoft Outlook to move my day along. I can't TELL you how much this has improved my productivity. If I get an email I need to reply to, I put it on my to-do list and copy and paste it in Outlook. [Now I have to clear out the 1,200 emails in my mailbox that were sitting there for one reason or another.] And there is something gratifying to click that little box and see all the stuff I need to do disappear...and the day ends blank. Ahhh.

2. Avoid distraction. Okay, this one has been a bit more difficult for me because I'm fascinated with what is going on around me. [Outlook has helped me a bit with this too because of its constant badgering. :-) ] You need to find a way to get rid of your distractions. I know, easier said than done. Sometimes it's simply a matter of discipline though. We wander up and down the information super hwy, reading emails, forwarding pictures, IMing about meeting at the coffee shop, etc. My way is simply to rotate where I work. I have a laptop so I work in different rooms of the house. Something about the change of venue helps me to be more productive. It is silly but works. Don't worry if it makes sense, just do what works.

3. Stop listing excuses. My biggest one is fattigue. I know how much more productive I am when I'm awake so it is difficult for me to work when I'm less productive. Isn't that silly. I'd rather do nothing than be less productive than usual. So, I look at my illogical thinking and I work in spite of it. What is your excuse? What do you do when necessary to get around these problems?

4. Create benchmarks for DAILY progress. I do things as small as "Outline plot for minor character X". That may only take 30 minutes but if I do something that small each day in my prewriting by the end of the week I have my full character sketches. When I do my scene outlines I make a day of it [usually 2-4 hrs]. Otherwise each step of my writing takes no more than 2 hrs.

5. Determine a system for follow up on emails. Mine is in outlook but yours might be to leave windows open, to write it on a list, or something else. The key is NOT to stop and start over and over. Decide when and how you will follow up on emails, housework, kids, and other follow-ups. And stick to it. Don't slide back in to your old habits. Force yourself to change.

Set up these systems. Practice this week. Get ready for next week. We will launch.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

1 comment:

Ginger B. Collins said...

Just found your blog and it seems my timing is perfect. I'm pretty organized but seeing your list gives me a few good ideas to upgrade my own system. A comment on the Outlook Calendar as an organization tool: If I could find the person who perfected that software, I'd give them a full-budy hug! It lets you see everything on one screen and if you need the paper, you can print out the parts you need. Fabuloso!