I have frameworks for a variety of things, especially the work I engage in daily.
I have Photoshop templates for website graphics.
I have a marketing checklist for my podcast.
I have a step-by-step process for the blog articles I write.
These frameworks take the guesswork out of the steps involved at each stage. They allow for increased consistency, efficiency, accuracy, predictability, and productivity in everything I produce.
It might seem like frameworks would prove antithetical and even restrictive to the creative process, but I have found the opposite to be true.
If I’m trying to come up with an article idea, I’d much rather draw from a well of ideas already generated than go back to the drawing board every time. That’s just reinventing the wheel, and I’m not smart enough to figure that out.
More to the point:
In a world with unlimited options, we’re often stymied by decision paralysis.
What if I said to you: “Write a song about anything and have it done by tomorrow?”
Sure, you’d eventually formulate an idea and start putting the pieces of the song together. But you’d probably need to spend a lot of time at the brainstorming stage before even putting the first lyric down on paper.
Meanwhile, if I asked you to write a song about eating cotton candy at the amusement park on a sunny Saturday, that would be a completely different kind of prompt, wouldn’t it? With the subject matter determined, the only thing to do would be to write lyrical and musical content that fits the subject matter.
There are things you do on a recurring basis – setting up new releases on digital distribution sites, updating your website, writing social media posts… Can you see that each of these activities need to be done on a recurring basis and would benefit from frameworks?
Even if you choose not to put any limitations on your creativity (I’m not here to tell you what to do), there are a myriad of other things you do where templates, checklists, and processes would make a big difference.
These days, I even have templates for the books I write. It eliminates the need to create the same sections all over again – title, copyright information, dedication, table of contents, introduction, etc.
I understand that creating systems takes take away from things you’d rather be doing. But I’d encourage you to do something in service of your future self. Set up your systems now so you can be more effective in the time that follows.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.
Regardless of what business you’re in, standard operating procedures are vital.
The same can certainly be said for careers in music or creativity, since a high level of self-direction is required.
Systems define the scope of every task. They help you focus on what needs to be accomplished. They help you achieve consistent results. And, because they are finite in focus, ultimately, they help you save time in your day. That’s the foundation of productivity and effectiveness.
By the way, I’m looking for amazing people like you to become patrons of my podcast. So, if you like what I’m up to here, please consider supporting my work on Patreon.
Why it Took Me So Long to Create Systems
Having talked to over 100 business owners specifically about systems and operations, I had a good handle on how important systems are. I knew they would prove crucial to my projects and businesses too.
I knew about all the books (The E-Myth, Checklist Manifesto, The 4-Hour Workweek, etc.), all the tools (Basecamp, Atlassian, Process Street, etc.) and all the methods. Basically, I had all the answers. Yet, I struggled.
I would create systems, but most of the time they would end up sitting in some forgotten folder I would rarely access. I wasn’t great at updating them or with the ongoing creation of new systems either.
And, they were all over the place. I had systems in Word docs, Google Docs, Evernote, Asana, SweetProcess and elsewhere.
I don’t know anyone as knowledgeable as James Schramko when it comes to these kinds of things, and I respect him besides.
The previously mentioned post features multiple checklists that look like this:
That’s all I needed to see. Now I was confident I had a format that would work for me.
Technically, the above would be considered a minimum viable procedure because it does not feature a detailed explanation of each step, but hell, I’m a CEO, okay? I will get my assistant to handle the rest (I’m being tongue in cheek here).
Anyway, the point is that if there’s someone you admire and respect, ask them how they’re creating their systems and get them to show you. You’re more likely to adopt a process you feel confident about.
So, This is What I Did (This is How to Create Systems, Step by Step)
Are you still with me? Good. Because this is where I show a step by step process you can use for your projects and business. This is how to create systems.
First, I created a new folder on my desktop and called it “SOPs”.
I know this kind of goes contrary to what I said earlier about frameworks. I don’t know why I went with “SOPs.” Maybe it’s a bit of a mind hack or just the fact that it would make the folder easier to find. Ultimately, I still call them “frameworks.”
Then, I created a folder specifically for Music Entrepreneur HQ (as you can see, I have other projects requiring frameworks):
Then, I started making folders for different areas of the business (still very much a work in progress):
And, of course, within those folders exist multiple Word docs containing the systems (because let’s face it – there’s never just one thing to do in any area of your career or business):
Finally, here’s what my podcast promotion checklist looks like (I feel like I’m giving away a bit of the secret sauce here):
And, that’s it! How simple was that?
Pro tip: One day, all my systems will live in the cloud and yours should too. Why? Because eventually you will be handing off certain tasks to your team!
I know it can be easy to let your perfectionist tendencies get in the way of making frameworks (aren’t we all perfectionist as creatives?) but if you just start getting things out of your head and onto paper, not only will you feel a lot better, your productivity will begin to soar.
And, don’t forget – if you aren’t happy with anything, you can always tweak. There are no mistakes. You will add and subtract to your checklists as needed. System creation is an ongoing process (I just saw something to add to one of my checklists while writing this post!).
Remember – put away the artist hat when you’re working on the business side of things.
Do You Struggle with System Creation as a Creative?
Boring, tedious, unpleasant things are a part of life and business. That doesn’t mean they don’t need to be tended to.
Systems are usually one of those things. They aren’t exactly sexy or fun.
But as I explained at the outset, having them makes you far more productive. Honestly, I prefer the term “effective” to “productive”, but I know more people readily understand the term “productive,” which is why I use it (another great example of how certain language lands with different people).
So, do you struggle with systems? You’re literally not alone. You just read my story and saw all my flaws and analysis paralysis on display. Plus, no exaggeration, what I just shared with you represents about five to six years of struggle.
You will never have to struggle same way I did if you use the above process and get started today.
Either way, I don’t want you to leave here without making a commitment to yourself. It’s time to create systems.