I get this question a lot – “Justine, how is it that you do what you do – how are you so… productive?”

Honestly, I’m slightly obsessed with finding better, simpler, easier ways of doing stuff. I want to play outside and spend time with the people who I love while being wildly generous and helpful with my gifts. This motivates me to find easy to use (and often free) tools that are really good at supporting business run by creative people.

For the foreseeable future, this is what I’ll be writing about because it is the thing people ask for my advice about more than anything else.

So what is a system, exactly? “A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.”

When we look at business systems, we’re looking at all the pieces that allow your business to run: business foundation systems, communication systems, marketing systems, sales systems, delivery systems, money systems, relationship systems, backup systems, scheduling systems, and metrics systems.

These systems include three major components – policies, process and procedure.

  1. Policies answer the question – what do I need to know?
  2. Process answers the question – what needs to be done?
  3. Procedures answer the question – how do I do something?

Let me apply this framework to the way I approach my day.

The way I look at it – the way we move through our days creates the way we move through our lives. That means even the smallest details are extremely important because they compound over time.

Here’s my system for approaching my time:

  • My policy is to keep a balance of structure and space in my calendar and to make sure my computer generally is closed at 5:30pm. Another policy is to move my body everyday either by riding my bike, going to yoga or rollerblading.
  • My process for my calendar is to have an intention for the space I spend on my own business and my client’s businesses, to book client meetings and business meetings and personal meet ups in their proper time slots and to keep my calendar up to date.
  • My procedures include using a white board to keep a high level view on my calendar, a digital calendar, Sunrise, to block my time and Asana to keep track of my to-dos. Every morning I write out my intentions (always the same), and the things I absolutely need to do and the things that would make me proud. (that one I got from Nisha Moodley – it’s her North Star Practice).

A big learning curve for me has been creating clear boundaries – being up for at least an hour before I touch my computer. I do a guided meditation, my Mayan Abdominal self care massage, use my neti pot, eat breakfast and write out the intentions for life and my day.

Here are my tools to get things done:

My whiteboard. You know what’s awesome? I went to Home Depot and bought a sheet 3x that size for $15. They cut it into 3 pieces for me and now I use them for all sorts of planning. I used Sharpie markers to buildout a calendar template on one pieces and I put in the dates, month names and to-dos in dry erase markers.

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My digital calendar. I use Sunrise. It’s awesome because you can link in multiple calendars from many different places. I have it on my computer and on my iPhone. Everything synched everywhere, all the time. Phew. And it’s totally free.

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My task list. I use Asana. It’s amazing. I can create several different projects and invite different people to each based on what I’m working on. It’s free for up to 15 team members. Oh, and you can turn on a setting where unicorns will fly across your computer screen once you accomplish a certain number of tasks. As a once obsessed paper to-do list queen, Asana rocks my world in the realm of “Get Things Done” (GTD ;).

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My intentions for the day. Intentions are always the same. And I always ask the same two questions – what do I really have to do? and what would make me proud? On most days, I’ll keep my have-to-dos to 3 and make sure the make-me-prouds are more than what I have to do. That way, I feel like I’m never over-focused on work, but balance what I’m doing for work and how I’m nourishing myself throughout the day.

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And I always make sure that I stop and take in the beauty of the world wherever I go.

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Downtown Boulder. Taken from the Seeds Cafe at the Boulder Public Library after a snowstorm.

Does your daily system need tweaking? Where are you getting stuck? Any systems you would like me to wax poetic on? Drop me a comment or pop me over an email – I’d love to hear from you and support your needs!