One Thing ALL Highly Productive People Do

About 19 years ago, I was hired to set up risk management systems for Harrah’s Riverboat Casino.

In charge of safety, I trained every new employee on what to do in case an employee or passenger was injured or there was an emergency, such as a fire or other disaster.

The high volume of passengers (between 6,000 and 7,000 a day) increased the potential for injury, making it critical to have a system in place.

Of course, Harrah’s had systems for everything – from managing employee uniforms to processing new employees to prepping food.

Systems help employees know what to do automatically, without having to stop and think or ask questions. They are more efficient and more productive.

While it might seem obvious for big companies to set up systems, solo freelancers can also benefit tremendously from having systems in place. (In fact, that’s one of the things you’ll notice about highly productive people.)

For example, you would benefit from having systems in place for:

  • Attracting new clients
  • Following up with potential clients
  • Bookkeeping and billing
  • Writing
  • Managing clients and projects

At first, this may seem like a lot of work. However, once a system is in place, you’ll save time – and as the saying goes, “Time is money.” Here are some tips for setting up your systems:

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Use systems that are already in place for you. For instance, AWAI has created writing systems for you to use. A few of my go-tos are Copywriting 2.0 when I write web copy, Autoresponder Apprentice when I write autoresponders, and Secrets of Writing High-Performance B2B Copy when I write B2B copy.

Each of these gives me a system for writing specific types of copy. For example, using Nick's step-by-step landing page guide in Copywriting 2.0, I can quickly see how I should lay out my copy and what elements to add to my page. Not only does this make writing much faster, but because these systems are proven to work, your copy will also be more successful.

Bookmark systems online.

When you come across a system you like, bookmark it so you can easily find it later. For example, on AWAI’s website, there are dozens of shortcut systems for you to use. Joshua Boswell’s profit gap letter is a great tool for helping you get clients. The Vignette Template article I wrote shows you how to write articles in about a third of the time.

Don’t worry about having a perfect system.

You don’t need the perfect system to get started. Put something in place, and then tweak as you go. For example, I have a system in place for following up with potential new clients that saves me oodles of time. This system includes pre-made packages, pre-written emails, and proposal and agreement templates already created. They are ready to plug in and send along with a sequence of how I will contact prospects each step of the way.

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered ways to improve that system by observing others and making adjustments when things didn’t run as smoothly as I’d like.

Team up with other freelancers to create systems together.

Share in the work by teaming up with freelancers you know. You can either divide up the work or exchange systems you already have in place. If you already have a system for bookkeeping and a fellow freelancer has a system for following up with clients, you could exchange your systems.

Take some time to put systems in place for your business now. Not only will you be more efficient and more productive, but you’ll also ensure consistent service to your customers.

Plus, as your business grows, having reliable systems in place will help you to take on new clients even as you work on current projects, therefore avoiding gaps between work.

For ideas on how to set up a system for following up on prospective clients, check out my article “So You Have a Prospective Client, Now What? How to Create a Follow-up System That Saves You Time and Frustration.”

Tomorrow, I’ll give you a system for managing client projects so that you’ll avoid over-scheduling and missing deadlines.

What systems do you have in place for your business? Do you have any tips for your fellow freelancers? Share your tips here.

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Published: April 12, 2012

2 Responses to “One Thing ALL Highly Productive People Do”

  1. Hello Cindy,

    Thanks for writing such a fab article.

    Your ideas are right on the money: systems are important.

    Having a system in place spells the difference between success and failure.

    In my case, I have to keep my work in files and then I label those files.

    So, when I need something, I know where to look.

    Groping in the darkness is a recipe for disaster, especially when you are short on time and have deadlines to meet.

    My way, of course, is not for everyone to each his or her own.

    Archan MehtaApril 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm


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