181 Create Lasting Work+Life Harmony
This episode is about repeatable systems vs. one-time processes and how that relates to time management. Hang with me here as this may sound a little complicated.
Let's start with an example:
A one-time process to clean out your closet helps you organize your closet once. Setting up a repeatable system for how you take clothes out and put them back helps you consistently stay organized.
How does this apply to productivity and planning? You may have a repeatable system for setting up your calendar for the week but what happens when one of these things happens: something takes longer than planned, an emergency pops up, and new things come at you that you need to squeeze into your week? Do you have systems for doing this?
Having systems in place to plan and manage our time can help us live a life of harmony where we don't feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed out. We need to account for the realities of life and create systems to adjust when emergencies happen. It will take time and patience to build the systems, but over time they will become habits.
In this episode, you will learn the following:
1. Discover the power of systems to manage your time and calendar.
2. What is the difference between a one-time process vs a repeatable system.
3. Find out why your goals won't be achieved without the right systems in place.
Ready to ditch overwhelm for good? Head to www.theworklifeharmony.com to get my free training and get started today!
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Hey there. So there is an incredible difference between having a one-time process versus a repeatable system. And this is true in all aspects of our life, especially when we're trying to keep things organized, planned, managed, kind of better in control. And so in today's episode, I really want to break down the difference between what a one-time and process is and the pitfalls with that versus what a life where you have systems in place can look like, especially as it relates to planning and managing your calendar. And this is inspired by one of my favorite quotes from James Clear and his book Atomic Habits. So let's go ahead and get started.
Welcome to the Work + Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the Top program and top planner, teaching all things time management, organization, and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife, and just like you juggling hashtags all the things while running multiple businesses and a family, guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed out.
There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning and organization, to skyrocket your productivity so you can have Work + Life Harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you. And if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my Work + Life Harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram at Megan Sumrell with the word Harmony, and my team will send it right over.
Hey there. Welcome back to work life. Harmony. Today's episode is on a topic that I talk about often inside of my program and with my students. And I was just recently rereading for either the fifth or 6th time, the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.
It's an amazing book. We're actually running this as a book club inside my Plan-a-Palooza community this quarter. And one of the quotes in that book stood out to me, which is exactly what I talk about when it comes to planning and managing our time. And so I thought it would be a great thing to pull out and really take a deep dive on here today in the podcast. So the quote from the book Atomic Habits, again written by James Clear, is this you do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.
Now, where does this fit into all things Work + Life Harmony, time management, planning, et cetera? Well, one of the points that I bring up time and time again is that having control of your calendar, being really good at planning and managing your time requires systems, ongoing, repeatable systems. And there are a bunch of them that I teach inside of the Top program different systems for when different things happen in our lives. So let's take a minute here and first to think about COVID What do I mean when I talk about a system? When I'm talking about a system, I am simply referring to a series of steps that you take, or even a specific step or activity that you take that you've done so many times that it starts to kind of become muscle memory.
So that when situation a happens, you know exactly what your system is to respond to it. Now, we have tons of systems in our lives, so many that are probably happening on autopilot that you may not even remember it, but maybe they didn't start that way, right? So in our household right now, we're really working on helping our daughter get responsible for putting dishes away, all of that. The system we are trying to create is as soon as you are done with a utensil or a dish or whatever, you go and put it into the dishwasher. That's an example of a very simple system.
Now, here is the difference between a system and a one-time process. Now, if she just one time went in and put the dish away but never did it again, that would be a one-time process, right? And here is where I see the planning and productivity community failing. So many people today, what so many of them are teaching, is a one-time process to get you back in control of your life again. What they're failing to teach are the repeatable systems that keep you from getting overwhelmed.
Now, I have shared in previous episodes my three-step process for whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed. But I always tell everyone, this is not a system. This is not where you want to live. This is a one-time process. And then you need to implement systems to keep you out of overwhelm.
So let's break this down with an example. And then I want to really lean into understanding what some of these systems and why we need them to help us plan and manage our time. So many of you are familiar with the Marie Kondo style of organizing, right? Or even if you watch home edit on HGTV, you could right now pull up, Pinterest, Google, whatever and say, all right, I walked into my closet. It's a complete disarray.
I want to have it be one of those closets that looks really gorgeous. What is the process for doing this? And you could probably find some material that will tell you, okay, here's the process. Take everything out of your closet. Then as it's all out of your closet, take thoughtful time to really go through and quote edit it, meaning what do you want to keep?
What do you want to get rid of? And then decide how you want it organized when it goes back in. Maybe you want it organized by season or by color or maybe by both that kind of a thing. And so then you go and put all your stuff back in your closet. It's all hanging the right way.
You might even have matching hangers. It might be color, organized, right? And that is a process for you to take your closet from chaos into a beautiful looking closet where now everything in there is stuff that you love and it's all put away nicely. Now, what that is not is an ongoing system. Okay?
So here's what happens with that example. Weeks, months go by and all of a sudden, one of these days, maybe it's, you know, six, nine months later, you go to get dressed in the morning, you open up your closet door, and it is absolute chaos again. That's because what you did not have was a repeatable ongoing system of how you take clothes out, like when you're actually getting dressed in the morning, do you have a system for where those hangers go, et cetera? And then after you've done laundry and you're putting clothes back in your closet, do you have a system for how everything goes back in to keep it looking nice and organized? The same is true with a pantry, right?
Maybe you reorganize your pantry. But if you don't have a system for keeping it that way, it gets out of control. Another example is with email, right? So maybe one day you're like, that's it. I'm getting caught up on my email.
It's an absolute mess. It's chaos. I've got 10,000 unread messages and you spend the entirety of a day or even a week going through deleting, cleaning it up, creating your folders, and doing all of that. But if you are lacking the repeatable systems that you do every day to stay on top of your email, you're going to end up right back where you started from again. And two years later, your email is going to be a hot mess.
So how does this concept of systems apply to how we control our calendar, how we plan and manage our time? So let's think about this. Let's say that you have decided, today is the day I'm going to get the perfect planner, right? I'm going to lay out the plan for my week. I'm actually going to have the list of all the stuff that I'm going to do.
I've got all my appointments in there. Great. I've got my I did my one step process of just creating that plan. But then maybe something takes longer than you planned. Maybe you've booked 1 hour to get something done, only to discover that you needed 2 hours.
And now everything like that domino effect starts to fall, right? Okay, well, that took 2 hours longer, which means now I'm late starting this other thing. And then it starts to snowball. And by the end of the week you're like, well, I give up. See, planning doesn't work.
Or maybe you've laid out the perfect plan, the one time process there and an emergency pops up. Maybe it's Wednesday afternoon and what you had planned on doing now, you get a phone call and give a sick child that you need to go pick up from school. And you don't have the system in place to know what to do when that happens, right? Or you've laid out your perfect plan for the week and you sit down to work on Monday morning only to see that now your boss or tasks from work or whatever, all these new things are coming at you that have to get done this week. And you're like, well hang on, I already created my plan for the week.
I don't have the system in place to know what to do as those new pop up things come at me. So this is usually when I meet people and they say, I tried planning, it doesn't work. It's not that the act of the planning didn't work. They just didn't have the systems to handle all of the realities of life, to know what we do, to adjust with our plans, to accommodate our plans as those happen. So when we go back to that quote, you do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your system.
I could even change that up a little and say, you don't rise to the level of your plan, you fall to the level of your daily systems as life happens. Now I will see this time and time again where women who are in my top program, they are on board. They are learning all of the different planning systems from planning for uncertainty, to how we adjust when an emergency comes up, to actually the process itself, for doing the weekly planning, for maintaining the ongoing system, for prioritization, for organizing information. All of the little mini microsystems that we teach in there. And then sometimes life will happen.
Maybe someone goes on a vacation for two weeks or something or summer happens and they kind of step away from everything. And as the saying goes, we fall off the wagon, right? We stop doing all of those ongoing systems that we've put in place. And then what will happen is I'll get an email from someone that's like, oh my gosh, I realized things were starting to feel chaotic again. I've come back into the systems and everything is starting to work better.
So there is again, if you feel like you are constantly reinventing the wheel or doing that initial organization over and over and over again, that's a sign for you that you don't have the system in place to keep things going as they should. Now, I think it's important to understand when we're talking about those systems for how we plan and manage our time. The results are not going to change instantly overnight, right? Anytime we're meaning you're not going to have one day and then suddenly you're no longer overwhelmed. Everything is new.
Sailing life doesn't throw you emergencies, all of that. It's the same as, like, think about if you were to start a new exercise routine. I can remember many years ago, about 25, almost 30 years ago, I've never been a runner or anything, and I decided I wanted to do a race. And I mean, I couldn't run 1 mile. Walking a mile was a bit of a challenge, but I created a system and I followed, you know, someone else's system for how to kind of start running right now.
I followed the system very well. After one week of following the system, was I able to go out and run a three-mile race? Of course not. It took months of working on that system, so the results were not instant and overnight. But then six months later, I was able to go out and complete my first five K.
And in that moment, it was me rising to the system. The work that I had gone through those repeatable processes for six months got me to that end result. Now, here's the beauty of creating systems that you use regularly. And these are systems I'm talking about with planning and managing our time. The more you use them over time, they will start to shift into habits.
And when I talk about the term habits, I'm meaning things that truly start to happen on muscle memory. I have been using my planning processes for so long that I don't need to go look up what the steps are anymore. I can't not do it that way because it has now become a habit. And that, friends, that's where the magic is. So here's what I want you to do.
I want you to think about today. How do you handle changes in what you had planned on doing for the day or the week? How do you respond? What do you actually do when five new things fall on your plate or when something takes longer than it should? Or when you wake up and realize, oh, my goodness, I've completely forgotten about X?
And if your answer is, I don't know, I just kind of like go into fire-drill mode and handle it. That is a sign that you are 100% missing the systems that you so deserve to have to help you stay in control of your calendar. Now, if you are interested in kind of hearing more about what this looks like, I have a great free training available to you. It's how to plan, manage, and organize your time. Even with a crazy and unpredictable calendar, you can go check it out by just heading over to theWorklifeHarmony.com.
Make sure you put the worklifeharmony.com or feel free to come find me on Instagram @MeganSumrell Just shoot me a DM with the word training and then we'll make sure that we get that link over to you as well. But I am telling you again, back to that quote you do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. And this is so true in every aspect of our life. So I look forward to hearing from all of you what systems you're excited about putting into place, and I will see you back here next week.
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