Updated: Sep 19
So you may he asking, “what does he mean by system?” Well, what I mean by “system” is: a process you have in place to keep yourself accountable. There may be another fancy word for it, but I’ve always referred to them as systems. This can be as simple as setting reminders for yourself to complete tasks, or actually using calendar entires, or establishing and maintaining some kind of routine.
Systems help you organize the minutiae of your life so you do not drop the ball somewhere. I have to use systems because my memory has never really been great, so I need to write stuff down and put it in my calendar. As someone who works in middle management, I have many people and projects in which I am accountable. I use eight different calendars. “WAIT, WHAT?!” Yes, that’s correct. Eight. They consist of: Home, Work (mine), Work (wife’s), Business 1, Business 2, Finances, School, and Family. Seems like a lot, right? I could smash them all onto one calendar, but because I can make multiple color-coded calendars with Apple products, so I do. We use super color-coded calendars at my work, so that’s something I’ve grown accustomed to over the last 14 years. It forces you to be organized and I love it.
As far as routines go, I have my personal morning routine, my personal evening routine, my work morning routine, my close of business routine, and my weekend routine. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Personal Morning Routine:
I get up early. This has been a struggle for me over the years because I am not a morning person by nature. I am generally more creative at night and have been my whole life. But I was forced to adapt to military lifestyle where the bulk of the “work” was done at the beginning of the day. So I reflected that it my personal morning routine. Before I go to work, I’ve made sure I’m up several hours beforehand so I can begin the coffee-drinking and then dive into whatever the priority is for my personal work be it writing music, writing blog articles, or doing research. I generally cannot do audio engineering that early in the morning, at least not as of yet. Either way, this is when I get a head start on my day and I do the things I need to do first. Generally it’s something business related, but I’ve also made time to just drink coffee and read (or listen to) a book because that will help me tackle my day by putting me in the headspace I need.
Personal Evening Routine:
This routine includes family time, dinner, leisure activities, and when I can, more business or creative stuff. Because I’m non-stop from about 0530 or 0600 until the the evening, I’m usually rather tired at the end of the day, so I do what I can before I fall asleep. This routine isn’t quite as structured as my morning routine, but that’s ok. I, too, need decompression time. Before I do crash at the end of the day, I take another look at my plan for the next day so I know exactly what I’m doing when I wake up.
This isn’t too complicated. Mostly administrative work…checking emails, updating the work calendar, checking up on tasks I’ve assigned to my team throughout the week, and touch base with my leadership to ensure I’m doing what I need to do to stay ahead of the game. And then I carry out the rest of my day. Before the close of business, I again perform my checks: email, personnel, and tasks before closing up shop. This is a vast over-simplification of my work day because a Marine musician’s work day is anything but ordinary.
On weekends, my routine, or lack there of, is whatever I want. I do a little of this, a little of that, hanging out with the family, sometimes friends, long-distance calls, writing some music, maybe some mixing, reading, maybe some practicing. Really anything. Sometimes it’s not doing anything. Depends on how much activity I had during the work week. The only structured events are movie night (+pizza and beer) on Friday evening and coffee shop meetings on Sunday morning which I have been doing with a few of my best buds for nearly three years. Everything thing else is fair game, and I would venture to say, spontaneous at times.
Keep in mind, my way or prioritizing and organizing systems into place may not work for you, so you will have to develop your own. That is part of it too…if someone dictates to you how to do it and what to do, your investment level may wane because you know your life better than they do. The ownness needs to be on you. You must decide what your game plan is to keep your life goals on track. I just structure my schedule around two qualifiers: what I need to do and what I want to do; this is what I build my systems from. There is some level of compartmentalization regarding tackling projects; make steady progress day-by-day and see it through to completion. Figure out your systems and your routine, and give it some time. Changes don’t happen over night. Be patient. Another of my mentors said to me one, “follow the process, the process will save you.” That’s what a system is.
At the end of the day, whatever you decide your systems will be, you have to commit to the process. That means DEFINITELY don’t ignore or snooze the reminder that just popped up…
As always, I hope this is helpful for someone out there!
Michael is a music composer and audio engineer who likes to write articles about his craft…sometimes. Sometimes he writes about leadership, space, dogs, and other cool things that might pique interest.
Check out his website: www.michaelandrewnewell.com