Systems can be a great way to help you get back some elusive time.

Time that enables you to work on other parts of your business, expand your service offering, find more clients, or breathe a little easier by knowing that things are continuing without as much effort on your part as before.

Or, time could mean that you’re able to walk away from your business to spend it with family, friends, or by yourself without worrying that everything will grind to a complete stop.

Whatever it is that more time offers you, creating systems is one way of helping you achieve it.

How to create a system

So, let’s take a look at how you go about putting a system in place.

1. Start by writing down all the work you do on a regular basis. For example, it could be tasks like …

  • Email management
  • Social media management
  • Invoicing
  • Customer service
  • Blogging
  • Podcasts
  • Generating marketing graphics
  • Business newsletter
  • New business outreach

2. Then for each task outline the steps involved from creation to completion. And be specific. It’s even better if you actually do the task at the same time so you don’t miss any steps.

For example, your newsletter task steps could look something like this:

  1. Brainstorm content
  2. Research / Collate
  3. Create content
  4. Review & edit
  5. Create final copy
  6. Schedule
  7. Follow up / monitor

3. Once the steps are clear, look at ways you could automate some of these processes or make them more streamlined.

For example, is there any software available that will automate some of these processes? Or, could you group elements of the task together to generate multiple assets to save time further down the line?

You may decide to spend an entire day coming up with newsletter content ideas for the year ahead. You could then outsource the research task and / or the content creation, depending on your area of expertise.

Or do it yourself.

But the point is, you’ve already outlined what the newsletter will contain each month, so generating the content becomes a lot easier and the time greatly reduced.

Another example is with your monthly invoicing, if you’re still using a spreadsheet then you are definitely in need of a system to help make it a lot less time consuming.

Get started with some free software like Wave, personalise it with your branding, setup any automations such as payment reminders, add your clients, link up your bank account, and hey presto, invoicing just became a lot less painful.

It gets even easier if you have a niche.

Perhaps you specialise in website development. You could create packages on your website for the different website options, followed by a questionnaire specific to the package bought.

The questionnaire could contain all those questions that previously would have taken multiple emails back and forth, cutting the time right back for both of you. For example:

  1. Login details for relevant account access
  2. List of website pages
  3. Link to Dropbox or similar to provide all assets – logo, font, images, etc.
  4. Style of website – corporate, contemporary, etc.
  5. Page layout requirement, or examples of preferred styles and format
  6. Will the website require a shop facility? If so, what are the products?
  7. Supply a list of main competitors and their websites – state likes and dislikes about those sites
  8. Explain your target market – demographic, likes, dislikes, etc.

The questions could go on, and they should until you think you’ve got enough to get started.

Whilst this may seem like a lot for a new client to answer, it’s how you explain the purpose of this system that will determine its chances of success.

Spending time to make time

If you spend time investigating tasks that could be automated or streamlined and putting the relevant systems in place for those that can, you will free up time to use exactly as you want.

Before putting my own systems in place, my days were often filled with repetitive tasks. Now …

  • I’ve created new client questionnaires that streamlines the new business phase.
  • I use accounting software that’s at least halved the time spent invoicing each month.
  • All my social media tasks are batched and then automated using Buffer.
  • Incoming emails have rules applied.
  • Content schedules have been drawn up for the year ahead.
  • Graphics are created in bulk using Canva.
  • Etc, etc.

And those tasks that continued to take up too much of my time … I realised it was more cost-effective to outsource them, than persevere.

Two things I’ve learned since beginning my VA journey seven years ago …

Sometimes you have to spend money, to make money.

Sometimes you have to spend time, to make time.

What systems have you put in place to help free up some time? And more importantly, what have you spent that newly-found time doing?