Hello there you creative person you. As a creative you might be wondering what you’re even doing reading an article about systems. Resist the urge to run and I’ll show you how to use systems to unleash your creativity.
Systems. Structure. Process.
These are all words that cause eyes to glaze over, and hearts to go cold.
As a creative myself (many of the photos you see on this website are mine) I resisted structure of any kind, which is quite ironic as I used to be a corporate lawyer and it was there that I indulged my scarily organised side – creating templates for documents, creating systems for reporting to clients. The list goes on.
I came to realise that resistance is futile. That systems could help me unleash my creativity, rather than restrain it. I began to think of systems as an extra tool in my creative tool box.
So what is a system?
First up we need to know what a system is! Basically it’s a set of things that you do to carry out a specific activity. It’s that simple.
If you’re a photographer using Lightroom to edit your photos then I bet you’re already using a system or two without realising it. You might lower the highlights then lift the shadows for every photo that you edit. That is one example of a simple system.
You might be writing all of your ideas on pieces of paper then picking one at random to work on when you get bored. Not every system is a good one!
What are the best systems for creatives?
The best systems for creatives are those that take care of the day to day routine activities. Once those systems are in place you can leave the worry behind, “Did the Wilson’s sign their contract?”, and save yourself time, “I’ve been emailing Mary for two weeks now and we still haven’t found a good time to talk”.
Once you have simple systems set up to take care of the day to day you’ll have more creative energy for your ideas.
How many systems do I need?
This will depend on each business. As a first step, start to pay attention to your routines.
“What tasks do I repeat on a regular basis?”
“Where would I like to save time – mine or my clients?”
“Where do I feel that I’ve not given my clients a consistently great experience?”
Keep a list of these activities.
One of my favourite systems
Many of us business owners book in appointments to talk to potential clients. Whether you’re a web designer, a wedding photographer or a writing coach you’re going to need to arrange a time to talk.
One of my favourite systems was setting up an easy way for my clients to talk to me.
When I look at setting up a system I imagine the flow of the activity – where does the person first hear of me? What tool do they book with? What information do I need to collect for the call?
This is my Free Systems Assessment Call system . . .
Step 1: A potential client comes to my website.
Step 2: That person likes what they read and wants to contact me to discuss their business.
Step 3: They see that I offer free 20 minute system assessment calls. They click on the Book Here button.
Step 4: They’re taken to my online calendar booking page where they can choose a time that suits them. They provide answers to the questions that I have in my booking form.
Step 5: Their appointment is automatically put into my calendar, together with the answers to their questions.
Step 6: They’re automatically emailed the details of their appointment, as well as a link to my Zoom room.
Step 7: 24 hours before our call they’re sent an automatic email reminder.
Step 8: We have our call!
Whoa! You might be thinking that is a lot of steps for one call. Yet that system has saved me countless hours of time because I no longer need to have a game of email tennis, with emails bouncing back and forward, trying to work out time zones and available dates.
Now you can book in a session with me in under 5 minutes and have a much smoother experience. And that, is a MASSIVE reason that I love systems so much – the experience for my clients is a consistently good one.
How do you create a system?
You start by looking at your list of activities that you regularly repeat. Then you’ll think over what you do now for each activity AND whether it works for you. There is no point in creating a system based on a series of tasks that are complicated or don’t get the end result that you want.
When I first started talking to potential clients I didn’t have the system in place that I outlined above. It was the endless stream of emails that had me thinking “There must be a better way to do this!” Do you have tasks that make you think like this?
I was delighted when I discovered that there were online scheduling tools that I could use. My new system grew from the availability of that tool.
If you want to discuss how to use systems to unleash your creativity within your business then book in for a free systems assessment with me.