Life and business control starts with systems

Many business owners would love to have control of their lives, yet they never seem to take any serious steps toward achieving that state.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m no poster boy in this department, but just like me, if you look around, you’ll find someone doing even worse than you at this.

It’s something I have to make a very determined effort to stay on top of.

For me, it all comes back to systems.

My system is fairly simple.

It consists of Outlook, lists and a Smartphone or similar that talks to Outlook and knows what’s on my todo list and calendar.

One thing that makes Outlook far more functional at this is David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) add-in for Outlook.

If you haven’t read David’s book Getting Things Done, I suggest giving it a shot. I’ll warn you – You might not agree with his methods at first.

If you are one of those people with piles all over your desk and all over your office, constantly trying to figure out where things are or finding things late because they were in a pile, then David’s book is a definitely a worthwhile read for you.

Lets get back to the Outlook thing for a minute. GTD for Outlook adds a toolbar to the email viewer screen, and to the main Outlook screen.

One of the most important buttons on that bar is DEFER.

When you get an email that you dont need to deal with for 2 weeks, or it confirms an appointment (and the other user isnt using Outlook’s meeting confirmation/calendaring features), you can simply use the Defer button to quickly create an appointment on your calendar.

Best of all, that appointment has the original email attached to it, along with any files or what not that came along with it.

I’m not going to document the entire product, but that button not only saves me a lot of time (no manual entry of appointments) but it also helps me make sure I am where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be.

Give the book a read. I think you’ll get something out of it even if you don’t use Outlook. There are other programs (Including another add-in for Outlook) that were designed to work in the GTD system.

Control of everything is impossible, but effectively dealing with the disasters (or just random annoyances) is a lot easier when the controllable stuff is actually under control/management.

Remember, you set the tone for your business.

If you aren’t under control (or at least look it), then your staff won’t see much reason to be either. Or they’ll find an employer who is.

Same goes for clients.

Is your controllable stuff actually under control?