Awhile back I wrote a blog post about why information products are so cool and in it, I mentioned David Walsh’s Source Control. I’d like to mention it again here, and I’d also like to talk about Sam Carpenter’s Work The System.
I’ve been getting sick of spending time on things that I know don’t really add much to my life (ie. pointless internet browsing among others), and these books have forced me (because of their incredible logic) to start analyzing the ‘systems‘ in my business and in my life as well.
After devouring these resources countless times, I’m understanding how systematization can dramatically improve the quality of my life and business.
Here are just 2 examples of how my life has significantly improved because of these books.
One of my biggest problems a couple months ago was customer support. I’d get several emails a day from people saying they had trouble downloading a product, or something related.
Not only was I using my time to answer the requests, but I was also worrying about it a lot. If I was away from the computer for several hours I got nervous that someone would send an email asking for help and there would be no one to answer their questions. Then they’d get mad and ask for a refund. I try to keep a high level of rapport with my customers.
I was thinking of hiring someone, but before I started that process, I decided to analyze the systems inherent in the email exchanges I had with customers. I quickly noticed 2 recurring themes:
- Many people were having trouble opening the zip files. So I’d type something like: “Once your zip file has downloaded, just double click to open it. If for some reason your computer does not have a program to open a zip file, you can go to http://download.cnet.com and use any of the applications that come up when you search “free zip applications”.
- A lot of people could download and open the zips but couldn’t read the PDF’s. So I’d always say, “If you don’t have a PDF reader on your computer, go to http://get.adobe.com/reader to download one for free.
99% of the time these 2 solutions solved the problem.
I decided to put these instructions on the download page. Within the hour, support emails just flat out stopped. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I got an email from someone saying they couldn’t open their files. Of course, I get support emails from time to time, but at this stage in my business, it’d be silly to hire someone to handle customer support when I spend less than 20 combined minutes on it each month.
As my business grows, I will undoubtedly find the need for a customer service person. That’s why every time I get an email, I document the problem in a folder and write the step-by-step procedures to solve it.
When someone is needed, I’ll be able to fill the position quickly and easily and I’m designing it so that even my mom could do the job – she’s retired and bored so she just might get hired.
Thank you for hours of my life back Source Control!
I think Sam’s Work The System is so good that I’ll personally refund you your money if you don’t say ‘holy crap that’s genius’ at least 20 times while reading it. You’ll probably hit that mark within the first 100 pages or so.
In Sam’s book he recommends you write General Operating Principles for your business and personal life. “The General Operating Principles as the guidelines for decision making for your business or your job (pg. 134).”
I took Sam’s advice and wrote up a complete list of life principles (I have 19 total right now) – many of which I follow already and some of which I’d like to consciously work on.
Just a couple examples :
- #1: I ‘live uncomfortably.’
- #5: When I talk with others I am present, in the moment and not multi-tasking.
- #6: I religiously document measurable systems in my life. I keep workout journals, and when I desire to lose fat, I keep food logs. I write down successes and failures in relationship management.
- #11: I eat high protein and healthy fat foods, many vegetables, some fruits, and I restrict the amount of carbohydrates to enter my body.
The other day I was admiring my body in the mirror. Yes I admit it.
I thought to myself, “Wow, I can really shape up fast when I want to. I must have a good system in place for that.” And it’s true, when I want to get in shape, I can do it relatively quickly. But a problem of mine is once I start traveling or don’t have a gym pass, I can revert pretty quickly as well.
I figure that the system was good but flawed. So I went to work analyzing why it’s flawed. I realized that while shaping up I don’t allow myself to ‘relax’ and, thus, when I’m done with it, I go a little wild and eat stuff I shouldn’t and don’t exercise as much as I should.
So now, I’ve built into the system a ‘release’. I follow the 90% rule, meaning, 90% of my meals and workouts are completed, but 10% of the time I can do whatever or cheat. I added the ‘operating principle’: “I follow the 90% rule and I take time each week to ‘relax’ and not worry about the systems I have in place.”
This addition has made my long term health systems much more operable and realistic to my lifestyle.
Thank you Work The System!
Buy Them Now
Get Source Control here.
Don’t think about it – just go get these books. They’re awesome.