Systems Crafting in the Studio
I love that saying by Seneca: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Because I like good luck. And I like systems. And preparation is all about systems.
Systems are not about creating pointless, convoluted bureaucracies. They are not about organization for the sake of appearances.
Systems are about cultivating good fortune.
When you stop exhausting yourself by…
- trying to hold everything in your head,
- making the same decisions over and over again,
- making the same mistakes over and over again, and
- struggling with the crises and guilt/shame of lost time, information, opportunities and money
…you cultivate energy on every level – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial.
You cultivate spaciousness.
Spaciousness for creativity, rest and everything else you crave. Partly because you’ve gotten stuff out of your head and onto paper, leaving much more room for you and your muse to play. And partly because an examined, intentional system is more efficient and effective than a continually improvised one. You end up getting greater results from your actions – and that makes space.
You cultivate order and calm.
Systems reduce confusion and chaos, overwhelm and crisis – yet without feeling restrictive. Good systems are flexible and resilient and help you to be the same – even on days when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and nothing goes according to plan. (You know those awful moments when you wish someone would just to tell you what to do? Your systems can be that person.)
You cultivate support.
With systems, you feel supported because you are supported. And when you know more about how something needs to be done, it’s much easier to figure out exactly what kind of support you need. Support can come in many forms, not least delegation. Understanding your systems makes it much easier to bring others into your business successfully. (Trust me on this, I was an assistant for a long time.)
You cultivate consistency.
Good systems don’t require so much discipline and willpower of you. When they are built around how you work and what really matters to you, there’s nothing left to fight. And where you do encounter resistance, you can build supports into your systems to lovingly address that! All of which makes it easier to be consistent – and a big chunk of success is showing up consistently. (You can even build automagicness into your systems so not everything needs your personal and immediate attention all the time. Consistency can happen without your constant presence.)
You cultivate trust.
Trust others have in you and the trust you have in yourself. An examined, intentional system is one that is always improving – you learn from your mistakes instead of repeating them – and that brings about confidence. With the right systems in place, you know you can deliver and remain in integrity. As I’m sure you know, another big chunk of success is trust.
You cultivate alignment and flow.
Good systems keep out what doesn’t belong and protects and fosters what does. Systems keep you in your best possible groove where all the juice is. And when you are in alignment, energy flows in as easily as it flows out – again on every level: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial – which brings us back to where we started.
When you have:
energy • spaciousness • efficiency • effectiveness • flexibility • resilience • direction • order • calm • support • consistency • automagicness • trust • confidence • integrity • alignment • flow
- when you are no longer limited by what you can hold in your mind or will yourself to do – then you can expand in whatever ways appeal to you. You can create your own good fortune.
All it takes to achieve that fabulousness is skillful container-making.
Managing Time is about shaping Time – making spaces for all the things you love/want/need to do and figuring out their relationships.
Those spaces are what I call containers. All containers have six elements – Time, Clarity, Energy, Environment, Connection and Love.
Crafting systems is simply the process of defining, in specific detail, the six elements of a container for a given activity – how you want to take action on fulfilling an intention.
Replying to email. Publishing your blog. Cleaning your house. Delivering your special magic to your clients/customers. Waking. Resting. Eating. Moving. Counting your monies. Figuring out what to do with all those ideas. Or bookmarks. Or passwords.
It doesn’t matter if your intention is prosaic or ambitious, an ongoing or one-time thing – giving it the proper container, defining the elements, is the difference between fulfillment and … not so much failure as perpetual dissatisfaction.
At best, most of us address only one or two elements when we set out to do things, which is why we’re missing out on all those fabulous benefits of systems – all that good luck.
Get all six elements right (heck, even just half right) and amazing things can and will happen.
It’s that simple. Which is not to say it’s always easy.
Sometimes it’s anything but. Which is why I invite you to meet me under the skylight.
When you join me in the Studio for Systems Crafting, you’ll get…
You’ll come away from your Studio session with an understanding of each of the six Elements of Container and how they work together to support an intention.
And that won’t be an abstract understanding. A Studio session is about application, not theory. You’ll come away with real-life solutions to a real-life problem.
This is hands-on learning that allows you to implement something right away and grok this stuff down to your bones. And that means you can apply your new understanding to any intention (yay! transferable skill!).
I believe most creatives do best in conditions of immersion – that is, expanses sufficiently large enough for us to roll up our sleeves and really get into something. Without immersion, there isn’t experimentation. There isn’t flow. There isn’t completion. There isn’t satisfaction. Opportunities for immersion are crucial to the life of a maker.
Crafting a system is a creative act. It needs immersion.
That’s why these sessions are four hours of distraction-free, fully-supported time to explore, craft and complete a system. (Of course, we’ll take breaks! Rest is part of every good container.)
This isn’t cycles of talk followed by homework. The only follow-up required is putting your shiny new system into practice – and reaping the rewards.
If you’re tempted to take a DIY approach to crafting your systems, here are some reasons to consider help from a third hand…
The time will be now. This won’t end up being another ebook languishing on your hard-drive or half-finished course that fizzled out.
You won’t have to be at your self-sufficient best.You won’t have to figure out how a general concept applies to your situation – the whole session will be customized for what you need.
And when things get wobbly, I’ll be your spotter. Whether it’s confusion, perfectionism or doubt, I’ll be there to restore clarity, perspective and confidence. I’ll be there to remind you to use the genius you already possess. I’ll be there to remind you that this is about fixing the system, not you.
You’ll get to ride my coattails. I think about this stuff all the time, it’s my superpower, and it still took me three years to reach this level of understanding. I’m guessing you’d like your progress to take significantly less time. So ride my coattails, draft in the stream of my knowledge, experience and totally geeked-out enthusiasm for you and for the process.
“All that fabulousness? I want it. But just reading the word system kind of makes me want to vomit.”
Rest assured we won’t be creating the pointlessly restrictive and bureaucratic structures you currently associate with the word. We’ll be crafting something as fun, loose and comfortable as the favorite pajamas you probably like to work in all day. Promise.
“I wouldn’t know where to start.”
The good news is: it doesn’t really matter. Addressing any situation – big or small – that is causing frustration, embarrassment or guilt will make a difference. Everything in your business is interconnected anyway, so improvements in one area will generate improvements in other areas, directly or indirectly.
“I’ve tried this sort of thing before, but the changes never last/I never stick with it.”
I’m guessing that’s because your organizational efforts were missing some of the necessary elements. They all have to be there for a system to work and for you to want to use it. It also helps to know how to allow your systems to evolve with you instead of becoming obsolete – we’ll touch on that too.
“I don’t have that kind of time or moolah to work on my systems.”
Actually, you’re already spending it. Coping with the chaos, erosion and burnout that comes from neglecting your systems is costing you a lot. Creating structures that eliminate that chaos is a much more profitable investment of your time and energy (financial and otherwise).
Again, the sooner you have better systems in place, the sooner you get to experience the rewards.
The smartest thing I did when I went on email sabbatical was to hire the brilliant Cairene to help me nail my systems. Crap was sorted. Miracles happened.
I love her approach because it’s so non-punishing and curious and “hey, I get to do it my way!” What’s the word for that? Oh right, sovereign.
Cairene is wise, thoughtful, and unbelievably creative about time. And she’s a genius at transforming scary, boring or non-existent systems into ones that are organic, supportive, loving and fun. Systems!
Working with Cairene has helped me enormously. Understatement. It has changed my freaking life. I would be lost without her.
- Havi Brooks, The Fluent Self
the hokey-pokey pledge
When we meet in the Studio, I will put my whole self in and shake it all about. And I expect you to do the same.
That means having not only sufficient time and money to invest in a session, but also energy. The physical energy to be fully engaged for that length of time. The mental energy to be curious and focused. The emotional energy to be honest and present. The spiritual energy to remain grounded.
[ Putting your whole self into your session doesn't mean sharing anything you don't want to reveal. You don't have to get naked to do the Hokey Pokey! ]
If we’ve brought our whole selves into the process (and shaken them all about) and haven’t turned your systems around by the end of the session (that is what it’s all about after all) – just say so. We’ll find a way to make that happen.
If this is the right thing at the right time, let’s get started!
I want you to get a good return on the time/energy/money you invest in our time together, so a Studio Session begins with the Studio Compass: a dozen-ish questions to confirm fit and readiness – that this is the right place and right direction – before we move forward. Easy peasy.
If it’s a go, I’ll let you know how to pay your tuition of $570. [ While sessions can be rescheduled if something comes up, tuition is NOT refundable, so please commit wisely. ]
Once I receive that, you’ll be able to schedule your session, complete the Snapshot Questionnaire (to give me a picture of your current understanding of the system in question), and review the Hokey Pokey Guide (so you can get the most from our time together).
I have openings for 3-6 half-day sessions each month. Sessions are generally available…
- starting at 9, 10 or 11am Pacific – and run approximately four hours
- Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
- the first three weeks of the month
Sessions are conducted via telephone or Skype and recorded for your future reference. [ Visiting or live in Portland? We can arrange to meet in person. (It's even more fun!) Please ask at the time you apply. ]
Ready to begin?
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Questions? Please ask: hello [at] thirdhandworks [dot] com
P.S. If I could go back in time and give my Past-Self a tip, I would tell her to get help sooner rather than later.
Many of us try to bootstrap our way out of life’s challenges – which is not impossible, it’s just a lot harder and takes a lot longer than it needs to.
If life is sending you messages that something is off, it’s time to ask for some help. And if what’s off are your systems, let’s meet under the skylight. Soon. Your Future Self will thank you for it.