One of the “secrets” of top performers (in business and elsewhere) is their use of smart systems — the automation of regular, routine, “mid-value” activity that frees up that time for higher-value work.
One of my favorite examples of a “smart” system comes from an unlikely source: rock-n-roll super group, Van Halen.
While on tour in the 1980s, Van Halen used the “M&M Test” to ensure that their stage and equipment was set up to their specifications, every night.
Here’s how it worked:
In the contract rider (e.g. the agreement that described how the stage should be set up, as well as the special needs — food, etc — of the band) there was a specific clause:
“There will be NO BROWN M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”
As the band’s lead singer, David Lee Roth, explained in an interview:
“When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl…we’d line-check the entire production. It was guaranteed that we’d find a technical error. We knew they hadn’t read the contract carefully. Sometimes the oversight would have destroyed the whole show. Sometimes it would have been like, literally, life-threatening.”
A smart system.
IMPLEMENTING “SMART” SYSTEMS
At worst, smart systems save time. At best, they save lives.
While you are likely facing the same production challenges as Van Halen, here are a few domains/activities where smart systems can help:
- Managing your money
- Planning your day
- Saying “no”
- Eliminating distraction
- Meeting management (start + end on time)
- Planning travel
- Working out
- Eating healthy
I personally use smart systems to…
- Invest in an emotion-free, best-practice way (including rebalancing my portfolio)
- Save for major expenses including: vacations, new cars and unexpected emergencies.
- Evaluate charitable giving requests
- Say “no” to low-value requests on my time (without agonizing, or hurting anyone’s feelings)
- Manage my time (e.g. ensure I get my most important work done between 9-5, every day).
- Fitness (create space to exercise at least 5 times / week)
- Eat a better breakfast
- Perform routine home/auto maintenance
- Stay aligned / in-sync with my wife
These systems save me not only countless hours of time, but also an unquantifiable amount of mental and emotional energy.
Like Van Halen’s “M&M Test” these systems ensure that I spend less time worrying “what if?” and more time thinking “what’s next?”
How about you?
Where/how might you use “smart” systems to save you time and energy?
PS: If you’re like “what the heck is a smart system?!” then schedule time to time for a (free) coaching call with me.
We’ll discuss where/how you might implement smart systems…as well as other opportunities to boost your productivity + performance. (There’s no charge for this — but be ready to think/work!)
*Forgive this intentional grammar mistake. The correct word should be “ingenious”…I just liked the way “genius” looked and sounded 🙂