One thing I notice when I start working at something new is that the task takes extremely long to accomplish. For example, tasks that now take five minutes used to take 30 or 45 minutes! It was such a waste of time. Part of the problem was simply not knowing what to do. The next step was once I did know what I was doing, was finding the best way to do it. As the cliche saying goes, practice makes perfect (well more like practice makes better because I believe there is always room for improvement and not really a "perfect" way to complete a task). Once comfortable with a task or procedure, the next step is to increase efficiency. This can be accomplished by setting up a system.
What is a system? I am glad you asked! It is whatever makes a process more efficient. Ever try to do something haphazard and all over the place? That's never the most efficient way to do something. Having a detailed schedule, managing a to do list, and writing out procedures are all examples of systems. For example, when keeping a detailed schedule, there must be some way to maintain and upkeep the schedule. It could involve making the schedule for the next day the night before, or making the schedule for the next week on Sunday night. If you are really good, a whole month in advance. Whatever works best for you is the best system. For me, it is usually the night before for the most part since my schedule can change and sometimes there are a lot of contingencies involved some days so it is somewhat difficult to plan sometimes.
Using certain apps and programs can really help putting these systems in place. Again, whatever works best for you will be the best. For me, Google Calendar for my schedule is amazing! It syncs on every device, even on iCal for Mac and iOS calendar programs with near perfection. I use Nozbe for my To-Do list and aTimeLogger to track my time. These are all amazing tools but not the only ones, so find the ones that work best for you.
One more thing about systems is that it is important to actually implement them. Some times it can be fun to build a system and process and then get lost in the excitement and end up not actually implementing it. If that's the case, then it is just a waste of time and pointless. I've been guilty of this before, I have put detailed and good schedules into place but not actually follow them. Even now that happens at times, usually in the morning. It really does take discipline to implement a system, not just developing it. The best thing to do is to keep persevering and tweaking until you do have something that works. Right now, getting a good schedule in place and following it consistently is something I am working on.
There are also times when exceptions to the system in place can be a good thing. Breaking out of the routine is necessary because we are not robots. It can be beneficial to break out of our system because we can often find new ways of doing things and end up enhancing our procedures. Sometimes, I do find it better to keep my schedule open or not make a schedule at all and sort of unwind. Don’t become a prisoner to your system but feel free to change it and even completely do away with it if it is something that is no longer working for you. That way you can create another system that will work better.