Five Steps to Summer Sanity: Your Systems (Part 4)

Staying on course with your home business during summer requires planning and implementing systems. - InspiredBirthPro.com

So far, you have created a vision for family and business, and you've set some attainable goals. How are you going to get everything done and feel great at the end of the day? It will take a system. Or two. Or ten.

When my week runs smoothly, it is typically the result of me creating a plan and following through with it. All events have made it into my calendar and I refer to it throughout the day. I have made a menu plan that works around our schedule, bought the groceries and have the recipes out and ready to use. I've made a list of goals and tasks for the week and have been diligent and focused in my work. I've built in some self-care activities to reconnect with myself and others.

What makes my plans work so well has everything to do with the systems I've put in place and the rhythm those systems have helped create in my life. "Failing to plan means planning to fail" happens to me, that's for sure!

Step 4 is to determine what systems will help with planning, organization and efficiency for your home and business. The two-part process includes assessing what systems you currently have in place, and then identifying any new systems that will help you thrive.

Assess current systems

You probably already have some systems that work very well for you, and there are possibly some that no longer serve you. Our business, our kids and even we grow and change, and making adjustments to the way we work and live help us be more deliberate and conscious as we go through each day.

Here are some questions you can ask to help you examine your current systems:

  • Does your current way of living and working make it easy to meet your summer goals?
  • Do you have all the tools and resources you need?
  • What's not working for you right now? Are you disorganized? Is your space cluttered? Have your kids outgrown clothes/toys/etc.?
  • Do you have childcare options available for the times you need to work?
  • Do you have a good time management system?
  • Do you have an accountability partner to help keep you on task?
  • Are there any systems that have worked for you in the past that you can brush off and start using again?

Determine what systems need to be put in place

So, you've looked at what's working now and what systems would be good to start using again. Now it's time to think about brand new systems that can help make your life easier this summer. This will take some planning, but it will make your days and weeks run smoothly. Here are some examples:

Systems for Business

  1. Set up a specified area in your home to work on your business, along with the tools and supplies to make work easy and enjoyable.
  2. Schedule your work hours and keep them.
  3. Create jobs that your kids might help you with. My kids used to help with collating papers, putting together files, shredding paper, data entry, and setting up my classroom for childbirth classes.
  4. Create a library of saved email templates to answer common questions. For whatever email program you use, look up tutorials to set up canned responses for these emails templates. Boomerang and Streak can be used with Gmail, and you can even schedule when you'd like the emails to go out.
  5. Update your class dates, service rates, and FAQs on your website so you can refer people there for more information. Have you noticed that people email you and ask about the same things over and over again? Put that information on your website!
  6. Create pre-made sets of client folders, interview packets, and class confirmations, or go paperless.
  7. Update your marketing plan that outlines the strategies and tactics you utilize to market your business and maintain a monthly marketing calendar to plan all marketing activities for the next 2-3 months.
  8. Use a blog post planner to jot down post ideas, and a blog calendar to schedule them. I like the blog planner from Productive Flourishing, and the blog calendar from Blog Energizer (you'll need to sign up to get free access to the site). Both are free!
  9. A social media marketing calendar to pre-plan your Facebook, Pinterest and other social media posts.
  10. What aspects of your business could be automated? Do you need a system to manage your client processes? Would having an online scheduling program help your clients book appointments? Are you building an online presence and could you benefit from automating some of your blogging, email newsletter and social media tasks? Putting automated systems in place may take some time to initially set them up, and there may be a cost involved to use some of these services, but how much is your time worth? Think of automated systems as your virtual assistant; these types of systems will free up your time so you can turn your attention into income generating activities or simply have more time to be with your family.
  11. Use a free service like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your social marketing posts for days and weeks ahead across multiple platforms. (You will still want to interact often with your audience in real time, but a scheduling tool can help keep you in front of your fans and followers). If you are active on several platforms and post a lot of content, you may want to purchase a subscription to a social media scheduler.
  12. Make a checklist of your administrative tasks and how often they need to be done. Add those tasks to your calendar. I LOVE the Planner Pad paper-based calendar to track and schedule my action items. Online programs I love are Trello, Asana, and Toodledoo.
  13. What phone apps can you get to help improve your productivity? My favorite iPhone app for business is Trello, which helps me keep track of projects and checklists. There is also a desktop version that will seamlessly sync with the app.

Systems for Family Life

  1. Make a family calendar that can be posted where everyone can see the schedule.
  2. Have a plan for childcare for the hours you are working.
  3. Take your list of activities you created and schedule them into your week. I like to plan activities in the morning to get us up and out of bed and make the most of our day. I'll probably also wake up earlier than the kids to get a little work out of the way each day.
  4. Have a list of chores for your kids to help around the house. It's so much easier to direct them to the list than it is to nag at them to empty the dishwasher or scrub the toilet. It'll also help keep your house tidy.
  5. Plan play time, sleepovers and outings with friends.
  6. Allow for lots of downtime. Boredom often leads the way to creativity, and it's wonderful to see what kids come up with.
  7. Have materials and instructions available for projects the kids can do on the fly. Pinterest much?
  8. Create limits for screen time. I've found too much screen time makes my kids irritable and hyperactive. It's almost as if after a long period of sitting, their minds have to catch up with their bodies.
  9. Sign the kids up for your library's reading program. Barnes and Noble and other book stores also typically have a reading program with various incentives. Library days were blissful as my kids settled down for hours at a time to read.
  10. Create weekly menus and get the kids involved with the shopping and cooking.
  11. Find some phone apps to help keep you organized. For iPhone I have my bank's apps installed (to track banking and bills, and deposit checks), YNAB ("You Need a Budget" to, well, track my budget) and GroceryIQ (grocery list creator that syncs with your online account).

What other systems do you use or want to create? Please share in the comments or on the Inspired Birth Pros Facebook Group.

Tomorrow we'll wrap up this series and talk about breaking down your goals and creating the systems you want to implement.

photo credit: kpi via photopin cc

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