Is Your System Still Supporting You? How To See the Signs & Save Time.

What's it about?

There are apps galore designed to help you "fix or simplify your systems" But how do you know it's not working anymore...

System Design
Mar 22, 2021
7 min read

Your system should always support you as you grow - it grows with you, and should change with you - however there comes a point where the system you’re using isn’t supporting you.

Today I’m gonna talk about some signs - so you can save yourself time and discover an alternative that might work better for you!


TL;DR : Quick Glance Bullets.

When trying to see if a system isn't working for you:

👀 Look For:

  • Loosing Track of Projects
  • Loosing Track of Tasks
  • You don't ever add tasks to your system.
  • Not able to get things done.

🔍Keep your eye out for:

  • Dread whenever you use the tool.
  • Busyness
  • Holding everything in your head
  • Lack of "trust"

📅 When to Check In...

  • Pivoting your Business
  • Adding New Offers
  • Growing your team
  • Changing your focus...
  • Updating & Changing Your Business Model

Before we begin I wanted to just throw down some definitions so you're aware of what I'm meaning by a system.

What is a system?

A group or combination of things (aka processes) that come together towards a single purpose or outcome.

A process is a part of a system that explains HOW it works!Put as simply as possible a System equals the what and a process equals the how

Anyway, with that outta the way... let’s talk about how you know your system is no longer working for you!


It's Not Working Chief...

Often we think that if we can’t use something- that it’s all our fault, and we just “don’t understand it”... and we need to get good at understanding it then everything will be better...

However, for systems & processes, this doesn’t work.

A strong system is built around how you work (If this is news to you, watch this)

So when you’re exploring tools and solutions, it’s important to know what you need - more on that a little later...

Well That Don’t Seem Right...

There are many signs your system isn’t working anymore, and they can range from really big to really small.

It "Feels" Like A System

Often one of the first signs that a system isn’t working for you - is you’re noticing the system. A good working system is invisible. It shouldn’t get in your way. Now having some friction points built in will help - but the primary purpose of your system (for example, to add tasks) should be almost effortless... if it’s not... the system may need a little tweaking!

Alongside this you often find yourself going:

  • Where do I put these tasks or
  • Where was this supposed to go again... or...
  • WHERE THE HELL IS THAT THING!
https://media.giphy.com/media/3o7btPCcdNniyf0ArS/giphy.gif
Where does this task go again... is it in this database or that one...

That doesn’t support or serve no-one. If it feels like a slog, your system isn’t doing its job. The fundamental idea of a system is that it makes things easier (mostly). If you’re feeling frequently overwhelmed, constantly feeling busy and loosing track of everything your system was supposed to help you track. Then it’s not exactly doing a good job!


War of the Tech

So whenever systems are discussed we have to mention tools such as Notion, ClickUp... this is just a given. However, if when you’re using a piece of software and it doesn’t WORK for you - and there’s no way to change/customize it...

Then it's okay to let go 🤣

If you’re going to spend a lot of time inside of a tool or app or use a BUJO religiously, you better freaking love using it! If it doesn’t fit how you house your system needs to change and if you’re using a tool like Trello & Asana where the system IS the app. Then you’ll want to take a step back and figure out exactly what you need!

If you’ve built a system to manage tasks & projects - and you don’t want to add another task, because it’s a hassle to add, or you’re working on something special and the main way you set things up - ends up becoming a right pain! The process you’re using is stopping you from reaching the systems’ goal of being more organised.

If you can’t reach your goal - there’s a problem 😁

https://media.giphy.com/media/5z4kzLF9rdNj6EfFCj/giphy.gif
Just gotta add one more thing...

It's Taking You In The Wrong Direction...

Sometimes when we build things, we think it’ll take us one way. We build with the best of intensions, but we often get bogged down with having things for the sake of it.

A prominent example of this is when I created automatic dates inside of Notion for my Project Manager (a version of this you can see me build live for Keep Productive:

Francesco knew what was coming 😉

Now originally I was spending a lot of my time in a “Kanban” style view - but as my business grew and I bought on a small team, my system needed to see more than just one view. It needed to be easier for my teammates to add tasks, assign it to me - without having to add a week every single time.

I wanted to hit a button, and add a task to a project, or just without me having to go into week view - or reassigning a week. I also wanted to plan things more in advance. This was becoming cumbersome when I hadn’t already added the weeks in, so I was adding multiple steps and having to jump through hoops to make my system work.

My original system was to help me plan Weekly but the direction I wanted to head in was more longer term planning & the ability to add tasks without having to update 2-3 properties each time 🤣.

Whenever I’m building a system for me or a client, it should work for me - when I’m at my most organised, and also at my least - when I just want to finish a post and go watch Netflix or play a game.

Whenever my system stops supporting me with that - or becomes frequently annoying I need to change!

When To Check In

So you’re a busy business owner and you don’t want to be constantly checking in with yourself about your tools and if they still feel right. So here’s a few key times to check back in with the tools you’re currently using and see... huh... are they working right now!

During a Transition or Pivot in your Business...

I thought I’d start with the most obvious and simple one. If you’re wanting to pivot your business it’s a perfect time to revisit your systems, and figure out...hey is this serving me right now.

Pivoting feels unstable and so having a secure project management system or process in place will definitely help you out!

An example of this was for me recently when I was expanding/pivoting between Business in Notion and Simplicity Specialist it was a perfect time for me to explore the different options and see what do I actually need right now - and what can I just get rid of.

With my capacity for clients expanding beyond Notion users - I questioned if manually adding new client details & meetings would support me and my team..

So I dabbled with ClickUp but recently returned to Notion full time for my project manager because I knew that the system I had designed was completely setup for the way my team and I worked - and the lack of customisable docs and the busyness of ClickUp didn’t quite work for us!

Although we knew ClickUp was powerful - and is “on paper” a “better” Project Manager (because it’s literally JUST a project manager). For both myself and my small team. It just didn’t fit with how we liked to work.

(Honestly, because the almost “empty-ness” of Notion vs the Busyness of ClickUp drove us barmy

When You Start Growing your Team

This was a lesson for me when I hired my first team mate on, I had my custom Notion system setup and working just for me; it had everything I needed (see above point...) and I thought yes... I have a system that really works for me and I no longer need to change things...

But once my business started growing (as that was the direction I wanted to go in) I noticed quite a few issues pop up - and for me - when a system needs multiple videos worth of onboarding to figure out - there’s a problem that could be solved with making things easier.

What You Can Do?

Okay, so now you’re probably in two camps right now.

Camp one:

I'm good, everything is fine, my system is supporting me beautifully!

or...

Oh shitttt my system is broken and completely useless and I have no idea what to do ....halp

First, take a step back and think about exactly WHAT you need.

Think about what the purpose of your system will be, what it needs to help you achieve....

If you have a clear idea on WHAT you need - you can start exploring the steps, you need to take to achieve it and start describing HOW you’ll achieve it.

For example, let’s say you’ve been using Trello to manage your tasks, and that’s supported you so far - but suddenly you’re facing issues with loosing tasks and having to create multiple boards is causing issues.

So you explore other tools... Notion is obviously a popular option, as is ClickUp - but the question is which one is better for you?

The best place to start are your priorities for this system remember a system is the WHAT... what it’ll help you achieve.

But to help you with that you need to have a series of processes that support the HOW  - and if you’re not sure HOW you like doing things you’ll struggle if you just pick a random app.