A friend emailed me asking for help.
“I care so much about (my craft). Why does it always end up coming last?”
There’s a short answer to this question.
It isn’t enough to care.
I’d submit it isn’t even just about hard work.
It’s about systems.
Setting up systems to win is the key to your success. Financially, having systems for the right tasks is equally important.
The Sherlock Holmes Story
In one of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, someone asks Sherlock about a piece of current events. Holmes replies that he has no idea what the person is talking about. The questioner is shocked. The great Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know something? Holmes replies that the mind is only so large. If you fill it with trivia, there won’t be room for the information you really need to be successful.
Practice The Sherlock Holmes Method of Systems
Your goal should be to fill your brain with your craft and the things that really matter to you. Therefore, everything that isn’t important shouldn’t take up very much space.
- Track your expenses automatically using money management software like Mint, Quicken, or You Need a Budget.
- Schedule time each week to plan your spending in advance for the upcoming 7 days and to hold yourself accountable for the week before.
- Hide money from yourself. Send money automatically to your savings account.
- Check your insurances on your birthday (or some other anniversary.) Don’t think about them the rest of the year.
- Check up on your investments once every six months. Read about asset allocation so you don’t get stuck trying to time the market. Remember to stay diversified.
- Have taxes automatically taken out every time you’re paid for work on your craft. Schedule quarterly payments if you’re in the United States, or whenever taxes are due.
- Look at your beneficiaries every birthday that ends in a five or zero. Schedule these on your calendar.
Creating Systems For Everything
A friend of mine has systems for her whole life. I know that sounds boring, but really, it helps her gain maximum creativity. She said that all she focuses on each day are the things that will help her improve her life.
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
But I Don’t Have Time!
I remember early in my career I was at a point of giving up because things were so, so disorganized that I felt I just couldn’t get it together financially or otherwise. A mentor gave me the same advice I’m giving you.
Clean everything up and then restart.
“I can’t do that!” I protested.
“Why not? You clearly aren’t happy.”
“I don’t have time!” I said. Life was spinning in front of me and I couldn’t afford to stop everything.
“Well,” he replied. “You have two choices. Stop now and clean up your messes, which will take a relatively short period of time, or call off your career six months from now because you’re so disorganized you can’t concentrate.”
He made a good point.
If I don’t have my act together today, when is the right time to stop and put it together?
Your homework: spend this week retooling your systems. Imagine all the time and energy you can free up for the things you really love!