Life is a lot easier today than it was when I was a teenager. Cell phones, laptops, Spotify, texting, emojis (lol) and it seems that whatever you need, a level? A star map? A metronome? There’s a free app right at your fingertips.
But the ease of getting information doesn’t automatically make life easier, does it? Because we can get so much information and do things so quickly now, we’re expected to do more. Since we don’t need to be at our house to get or make a phone call, we can do it while grocery shopping, picking up the dry cleaning, and otherwise saving the world.
It’s so easy to do everything, that it’s also easy to get completely overwhelmed by everything we need to do. Between managing our social media platforms, booking and promoting shows and performances, keeping track of our finances and tax information, and keeping the household running (somewhat) smoothly, we are up to our eyeballs in daily tasks. So it’s understandable that so many people give up any hope of tackling that BIG.HUGE.DREAM.PROJECT.
I think it’s a waste of a good life to be so busy managing the little details that you don’t have time for the BIG.HUGE.DREAM.PROJECT. (hmmm…BHDP? Think it’ll take off? No? okay, I’ll keep thinking.)
Anyway, I do a lot of work with my clients to figure out how to get systems in place so that some of these things either happen automatically, or at least are more organized and centralized so that they take up less brain space, and take less time to do.
Decision fatigue is a real thing, my friend. Our brains can only make so many decisions each day. You know that feeling at the end of the day when someone asks what you want for dinner, and you’re all “I can’t even.”? That’s decision fatigue. So the trick is to keep our brain from having to make a bunch of decisions about inconsequential things all day so that it can focus on the more important ones.
Here are 5 of my favorites Decision Fatigue-Busting Systems, and the ones I usually start with. If you can set aside just a couple of hours this week, you could get them ALL set up and working for you immediately, so that you can spend more of your time doing the things that you love!
If you’re like most of us–staring at your phone, knowing that you should post something, but not sure what? You need a system. You can do this in a few easy steps.
And much like assigning each social media share “topic” a day of the week, I assign various household tasks days of the week as well. Mondays are for tidying the house up after the weekend, Tuesdays I clean the fridge, Wednesdays I water and tend to the houseplants, Thursdays I do laundry, and Fridays I do grocery shopping and pick up fish from the fishermen (except when I forget–like this past week…oops).
Can I switch it up if I want to? Yes, of course I can, but otherwise, I don’t have to wonder when something is going to get done. We now hire someone to come in to do the heavier lifting like dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms, but those are also great things to zone if you’re doing it on your own.
So, again, just write down all of the things that need to happen as far as household chores go, and then figure out what makes the most sense for you as far as which day to do which tasks.
1. I’ve become a huge fan of Quickbooks mostly because I can sync it to my business bank account and everything gets divvied up and categorized automatically. I can give my accountant access to it, so come tax season (which feels like every other week, right?) it’s all there, ready to go.
2. But if you’re not ready to invest in that kind of program, a simple Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet will do, and honestly, I have that as well so that I can house the big picture. I set aside an hour each Friday afternoon to do my “stats” I have a spreadsheet for each year, with tabs for each month, and one tab for a weekly snapshot of:
In my monthly tabs, I enter any expenses I’ve had, both personally and for business, and the income I’ve had. It’s not a perfect system since some of my clients will pay for 6 months upfront, and others will pay for it over a year, but it all works out in the end.
3. Automate anything you possibly can.
These are all done automatically each month, so I don’t need to remember to invest in my IRA or pay my credit card bill.
I aint’ got time for that, and neither do you, I’m guessing.
When I was booking concerts for myself, it seemed that every presenter wanted slightly different things. Some wanted black and white photos, others want them in color. Horizontal vs. vertical, long bio vs. short bio, etc. One thing they all had in common was that they were seemingly incapable of heading to my website and downloading whatever they needed. What worked for me (and them!) was to do 2 things:
I saved this one for last because it is the one System that can house all other systems. I use Trello, but other people swear by Asana. I think they’re both great, and whichever one you used first is going to be your favorite!
These tools are basically like a giant bulletin board–one that is highly organized and can hold everything. Because it’s a cloud-based app, you can access it from anywhere, and you can even share certain boards with others. So if you have a VA (or a spouse) they can access it as well.
I have a social media board, where I keep links to those Canva folders, log-in info, and do batch planning for each quarter.
I have a board for my students, and obviously had a board for Virtual Summer Cello Festival when I was running that.
I have boards for my clients, house things, finances, the philharmonic, and travel, and one for random bits of incoming stuff, like books that were recommended to me, or a new restaurant to check out, the name of a great PT, or potential board member.
My Trello board is like one-stop shopping for my life. No more searching 10 different notebooks (I know I wrote it down….somewhere….) it’s in Trello, guaranteed.
Conclusion: The key, to putting systems in place, is streamlining processes and reducing the number of decisions we need to make each day. Having a centralized place like a Trello board to put all information means no more spending 10 minutes searching for that random file. And having a simple process for choosing and creating a social media post means several fewer decisions need to be made around it.
Setting these systems up takes time, of course, but it’s so worth it in the long run. And whether you end up implementing just one of these systems, or all five, I know you’ll see an immediate difference in your daily timeline.
The only other decision you’ll be left with will be what to do with all of that newfound time and mental bandwidth.
Oh! and if you’d like a list of other tools and resources that I use on the regular, check out my Success Toolbox pdf. It’s free, and it’s loaded with 10 different tools I use that have given me SO many hours back in my week. Grab it here.