A System to Build (Almost) Any Project

Following up on previous post on “making a start” > continuing the work.

Making “just start already!” easier

After my last post on Medium, on the book The War of Art and getting started on something, instead of procrastinating, I have since had several personal projects I didn’t see the end of. This proves writing and doing are two different things and I feel I owe you a follow up.

As a designer solving problems is what I do. The solution for this problem came in designing systems; a set of rules I could extract into a structure to be repeated every time I bump into the same problem. I design, so that’s what I did. I designed a system as solution to my problem. A system that always follows the same order, with 5 main points:

1. Mapping where you & your project are right now
2. Setting the direction & outcome where you want to be
3. Structure & plan how you’re going to get there
4. What you have to do to get there & how to do it
5. Reflect on whether you got there, or not yet

The structure helps me to be as creative and still as flexible as I want to be. Determining per individual project how much time I need for each point, filling in the exercises and adding tools to make it personalized to each project.

At the start.. Mapping out the big picture by creating a clear view of what you’re working on. This has two parts: your project, and you.

You: Where are you now, what is happening that is making you want to change something? Analyze what you love to do, what you’re good at, if the world needs it and what if you could get paid for it. If this rings a bell, you know this is the Ikigai. If you haven’t heard of it, you can find a quick free exercise here.
Next, analyze the world around you. What changes could, or should you adapt to? What are your strengths, where to focus your strengths and what you can improve.

Your project. To avoid it being too big, or unclear, we map the work. A long term goal helps to clear out your direction. Imagining the outcome, the wins, lessons and questions along the way. But that’s were we leave that. This is all about how to actually reach goals and what needs to happen.

So let’s get to it then!

We’re working on systems rather than goals. Which means we stop the dreaming right after this step and get to reality next, focusing on here and now, disconnecting ourselves from the end result.

Structuring the work to do is a reflective process. Instead of what you wish, or would like to happen, we look at what you can actually do and achieve. This way we prevent disappointments and don’t overcomplicate things.

Let’s find a balance in:
Time spent consciously working on what you genuinely want & time spent being on autopilot, repeating the past.

Breaking up the daunting big goal into smaller, short term actions and finding the right motivation and inspiration to complete them. And remember, this part is all about where you are, rather than where you want to be. Everything we do during the program is aimed at uncovering what is already there. Your mentor and the tools we use are just here to facilitate that. You already know your values, your why and your mission. We just use that and do something we call You+1.

Ask: What is currently happening in my life that prompts me to make a decision & take action?

Then: Simply build on top of that..

Do your best +1, rather than +1000. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, it’s the realization where gets to be difficult. We often want too much, too fast. I know I do. And I must not be alone in this…

Systems exist to keep daily work tasks organized, efficient, and streamlined. Plus it’s structured to keep everyone involved on the same page as to how things get done. Determine the specific activities you’re aiming to systemize and create your own procrastination-proof method for completing it.

We can already book success in a small amount of time, which is why this program is set to be only 6 weeks, a couple of hours a week. We set a minimum for daily work and weekly achievements. Something you can keep up effortlessly, successfully.
Important to keep the work and momentum up is to set some sort of accountability. Which is what I’m doing now, by writing this article. To whom is may concern: I have finally put together all the work I’ve been doing, getting to a bare structure that works for each project I work on.
How can others hold you to it? Look for real life feedback and celebrate!

With programs like these, like any new course, accelerator, or workshop, the work often simmers down. Even with this program, which is a small amount of time for a lot of work to be done, it’s still wasted time if we don’t plan for it to continue.

The last step is to integrate the system into your life. We reflect on the work we’ve done, together, and improve it to make into a realistic blueprint.
The beauty of having a system, whether it’s perfect or not, is that it keeps on giving. Self-audit your work and pinpoint challenges and problems.
Adjust however you need. We keep changing and so will your systems.

Once you have a system in place, it doesn’t have to be perfect, or even great, yet. You can repeat the process until it’s at a good place. I have done this process a lot now and each time I do, I basically start with a brand new file, or design ‘from scratch’, but with the experience of the previous trial.

Thanks for reading,
Robin van Wijk

If you need help with getting it off the ground, or need a mentor to guide you through, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free initial call to see how I can help.

How does it work?

  • We start with an initial call where we do a diagnosis
  • I create a personalized curriculum to work on together
  • We start the program, or any other workshop needed in your case.
  • Together we plan the next steps and when/how works best for you.

Looking forward to getting started on your project!

Working with, learning and teaching new ways of working

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