Systems Simplify and Streamline Everything!

posted by Andrea | 07/5/2016
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systems

Over the past couple of months (and essentially for my entire life) I’ve thought A LOT about systems — and more specifically how many systems I utilize on a DAILY basis to simplify and streamline everything from cooking and cleaning to caring for my children and running my website.

Even simple tasks like brushing my teeth, getting dressed, making the bed, showering, picking up toys, making dinner, and getting the kids to bed are all simpler and more efficient with a system (you might not think you have systems for these types of tasks, but I guarantee you have more than you think!)

For example, every time I take a shower I essentially do the same thing in the same order…

  • Wash my hair
  • Wash my body (while rinsing out my hair)
  • Wash my face
  • Turn the water off
  • Dry my body
  • Dry my hair (and wrap the towel around my hair)
  • Use the squeegee to scrape the water off the walls
  • Get out of the shower

Taking a shower requires very little mental energy for me as I just “go through the motions” and do it the same way every day. I don’t have to consciously think about what to do next or wonder if I already washed my hair yet.

Also, I’m convinced that our kid’s super streamlined bedtime routine works so well for us right now because of how systematic everything is. We do the same thing in the same order at the same time every night. The kids know the routine and the plan and (for the most part) they follow along and go to bed fairly easily.

On a larger scale, can you even image what our world would be like without systems? Driving would be a nightmare, there would be trash all over the place, crime rates would skyrocket, eating at a restaurant would be next-to impossible, the internet wouldn’t exist, and air travel would be quite interesting to say the least (can you imagine boarding a plane without knowing where it was going to take you or when you would get there!)

The fact of the matter is that systems are an integral part of everything we do. If we embrace them, they will help to simplify and streamline almost every area of life (at least every example I can think of!)

In case you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan of systems… here are 3 reasons why!

3 reasons I love systems

1. Systems are efficient.

Without a doubt, anything done with some sort of system is more efficient than the same activity done without a system — everything from emptying the dishwasher, getting groceries, checking email, weeding the garden, or performing routine tasks at work.

I could elaborate on the efficiency of systems, but I think this YouTube video is a fun way to show how systems help to create efficiency — and thus simplify and streamline everything from slicing pizza and flipping pancakes to washing windows and cutting the grass.

Yes, this video is a bit extreme… but it’s still fun to watch, and it proves how much more efficient we can all be when we have a proper system in place. (Also, I love the music!)

2. Systems are teachable.

Although I am not the best delegator in the world, I have spent a decent amount of time creating systems that work well for me — and that can then be taught to others (specifically my family members).

I have come up with (in my opinion) the most efficient ways to do various household chores, landscaping projects, food prep methods, etc. and have shared many of them with Dave (and now even with our children).

We all load the dishwasher roughly the same way, we put toys away in the same places, we fold the laundry the same way, and we store food in the same spots in the refrigerator.

Nora is old enough to help out with some of these tasks (and she’s young enough to think they are fun!) Even Simon is old enough to show someone else how to do it. He can show you where his plate goes in the dishwasher and where it goes in the drawer. He can show you where his sippy cups are, where the snacks are, where his clean laundry is put away, and where the dirty laundry goes.

It’s honestly amazing to me how quickly kids pick up on these things — even James knows just where to go to find a certain toy, his blanket, or an extra pacifier because we keep them in the same place and he has already learned our “systems” at only 11 months old!

Similarly, we are taught how to drive using the same rules, we use textbooks to make sure we are all taught roughly the same things by the time we graduate, and we are (usually) taught how to do our jobs by someone who is more experienced.

 3. Systems are predictable.

Can you imagine ordering a meal at a restaurant only to have the waiter bring you something completely different? Or what about picking up your phone to call a friend but having someone else answer at your friend’s phone number? And what if you turned your water faucet on but no water came out?

What if you brought your child to school or daycare only to be informed that the school or the daycare was closed that day — just because? Or what would you do if your work randomly decided you needed to work 14-hour days, 7 days a week?

In each of these situations, our emotions would range from very confused to extremely upset — mainly because what we had planned was no longer the reality — with no good reason for the change of plans.

No matter how disorganized or “Type Z” you are, we all still require some degree of predictability in our lives.  We need to know that water will come out of the faucet when we turn it on, that our schools will run on a schedule, and that our phone calls will reach the appropriate person on the other end.

And thanks to systems that have been put in place over the years, those examples above are all quite predictable!

In my own life, I can easily predict approximately how long it will take us to get our kids to bed every night because we have a system and we do it the same way every night.

I can predict exactly how long it will take me to prepare so many of our favorite recipes because I’ve made them the same way for years. And I can predict how long various household chores will take me because I do them the same way.

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I’m honestly not sure our society could function without systems — many of which we take for granted every day.

My challenge for you today is two-fold:

1. Take note of various systems you utilize on a daily basis — either in your own home and life or within your community.

2. Whenever you feel like some area of your life feels rushed, crazy, chaotic, or stressed, stop and consider if there is some type of system you could put in place to simplify and streamline that  part of your life.

I think you might be surprised how much of a difference systems make in your daily life!

What are some of the systems that simplify and streamline your life?

photo source 1, 2

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12 comments

  1. Brooke

    07/06/2016

    This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have 3 kids under 4 and I am 6 months pregnant with my 4th. I think systems would make our life a lot easier but creating systems doesn’t come very naturally to me. What advice do you have for coming up with systems that work?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’d suggest starting with your morning routine — try to do the same things in a row every morning and see if it helps the the day run smoother. So, wake up, get ready, start breakfast, clean up the kitchen, get the kids ready, start the day (or something like that). I always feel like the day runs better when the mornings are simplified and streamlined!

    [Reply]

  2. Karen

    07/05/2016

    I was wondering if you have any ideas for people who work off shifts.I have 6 children(5 at home- ages 9-22) and work part-time midnight shifts.I really struggle w/ organization and structure.I’ll take any advice!!!Thanks for your wonderful blog.You are a blessing.

    [Reply]

  3. JJ

    07/05/2016

    We are still working on getting routines fleshed out in our home. Now that my baby has regular sleep times, that is SO helpful. He has a dairy issue and reflux, so thankfully his medicine started working. It is amazing how some times health issues can affect routines. My kiddos pick up on things like, “Daddy was home yesterday, so today must be church.” Haha! They really do pay attention!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, new babies have a way of “disrupting” all our nice systems and routines! glad his medicine is working — and hopefully you’ll be getting a little more sleep!

    [Reply]

  4. Iliana

    07/05/2016

    Yes, systems make life easier because they create and mantain an order in our lives. Also, it is much easier to delegate and replicate any task if there is a system.

    For example, there can’t be franchises without systems. I live in Perú and here we have Starbucks, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, etc. and they are the same as in the USA.

    Thanks for this great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! I was going to reference McDonald’s in the post, but then I figured that could go off on a new tangent 🙂 But you’re right, those restaurant franchises (and really any assembly line production) wouldn’t be possible without strong systems in place!

    [Reply]

  5. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    07/05/2016

    We have systems and routines for almost everything. I really notice how efficient my routines make me when I’m with other people who don’t seem to have a good system. Things seem so chaotic and take twice as long. We have cleaning routines as well as morning and bedtime routines that make it quick to get ready or get to bed.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know! There are so many times when I watch someone else do something and think “I could do it twice as fast” (like getting deli meat at the grocery store!) but of course, I don’t actually want to do what they are doing, so I just wait patiently for them to work slowly!

    [Reply]

  6. Janice

    07/05/2016

    Got a great appropriate quote. “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your DAILY ROUTINE.”–John C Maxwell. I think that’s what you’re talking about: systems, routine, schedules, habits, organizations, order, patterns, plans, processes, and SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). Another helpful blog post, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    JJ Reply:

    Oh, that is powerful! Thanks for posting! It is motivating

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for this quote Janice — I love it!

    [Reply]