Adopt a Holy Mindset

Think Like an Engineer

Read: Proverbs 1-3, 8, 9


Takeaways:

• Systems run your life or they run you

• Save time & double your energy by updating your systems

Kate came to me last year disgusted with her body. Her life was out of control and she needed to lose at least 30 pounds. Between her kids’ activities and church and social commitments, she had little time left over for herself. There was always something important to do. I soon realized Kate didn’t have a weight problem. She had a systems problem. And when we fixed the dysfunctional systems in her life, the weight came off effortlessly.

We all have systems in our lives that are run by our daily habits - a food system, a finance system, a family system, a house cleaning & maintenance system, a social system, a church system. Whether you’ve consciously built your system or inherited it from the way your parents did things, your current system is your “normal M.O.” It’s what you know and do. And it feels safe and easy to you.

But systems and habits either help you run your life or they run you.

You’re either smiling as you plate beautiful delicious food for your family at 7p or hustling to throw something together that you hope turns out okay. You’re either breezing into appointments five minutes early or always racing thirty minutes late. You’re either peaceful and calm at home in your space or frazzled by all the clutter.

Since you have systems anyway, they might as well have seamless, smooth, and well-oiled systems that whisk you from one thing to the next instead of wasting the precious willpower you need (to stick to your health plan), right?!

Great systems - the ones that make you look like you cheated - all   

1. Simplify

2. Automate

3. Serve

Think of one of your systems as we discuss each component.

Simplify

Great systems are lean. They have as many steps as necessary - and no more. They feel simple and doable to you too.

Conversely, this is the reason why starting a new health initiative is so hard. You’re learning a new system. And it often includes more steps than necessary.

- If you want to exercise more, but are having a trouble…

  1. Getting up at 5A
  2. Putting on exercise clothes
  3. Turning on the TV
  4. Playing the DVD
  5. Exercising

…then you might simplify your exercise system to:

  1. Get up at 5.
  2. Put on exercise clothes
  3. Go outside for a walk.

Build the system, then tweak it for more intense exercise.

 

-If you’re having trouble getting all the laundry done and this is your system…

  1. Throw clothes in the wash
  2. Dry clothes.
  3. Put in a pile.
  4. Start folding.
  5. Remember something important & go do that.
  6. Return to folding.
  7. Remember something important & go do that.
  8. Fold some more, hating your life.
  9. Remember something important & go do that.
  10. Leave the clothes for the night.
  11. Wake up to piles of clothes. Either fold them then or leave ‘em for the week, picking out clean ones to wear.
  12. Stare at the clothes all week, loathing the pile.
  13. Remember something important & go do that.
  14. Wear everything and start all over.

… Then no wonder you don’t have any time. Get yourself together! 😉 Do this instead…

  1. Wash clothes.
  2. Hang/dry clothes
  3. Put in pile on your bed (so you won’t go to bed without addressing them)
  4. Fold immediately
  5. Go do important things until next load is dry.
  6. Fold immediately
  7. Repeat steps 3-5 until all laundry is complete
  8. Immediately put all clothes away

While I laugh as I write out the laundry system, it’s exactly what we do, if not with laundry then with other unfinished areas of our life. Multiply this by 2 or more systems in which we attempt multi-tasking or allow ourselves to be distracted and NO WONDER you have NO time, energy, or willpower to follow-through on what you want to do, like lose weight. Make sense?

Take out some paper and write all the steps you follow with the system you’ve picked. Can you identify one or more steps that you can eliminate or simplify?

Automate

The best systems become automatic habits that you do without thinking. They’re just what you do. Like the toilet paper that miraculously arrives from Amazon ever other month without me doing anything, the systems in your life should feel that good. No more forgetting. No more making 100 decisions on daily basis when you could just make 10.

First, what are you spending precious time on each month that you shouldn’t be?

If you’re still writing out checks for normal bills…

If you’re still paying each month’s statement online…

If you’re still trying to nickel and dime your toilet paper purchase…

If you’re still picking out outfits (and you hate fashion)…

… PLEASE STOP…

… And automate that junk! 😉

That’s what technology is for! It’s so simple to set up auto-payments of normal bills, like your phone or water bill, and even your credit cards.

Second, where is time leaking out the edges?

How can you conserve time that would otherwise be spent in transition?

For example, I recently implemented a productivity system in which I only meet with friends/other people on Tuesdays, I only meet with clients on Monday/Friday AM and Wednesday, and Monday PM/Tuesday AM/Thursday are dedicated work times. This may sound weird or harsh, but as my life was fell apart a few weeks ago I realized it wasn’t my work load, but all the time I spent in transition - in the car or between appointments that ended at 1:30 and the next one began at 2:15.

How can you adjust your schedule to stop any leaks?

Third, what can you batch together to make some systems more seamless?

Grouping routine tasks you’re going to do anyway together cuts down on the total time it takes if you were doing it every day. Cooking is a great example.

Here’s how you’d apply the batch system to your steps:

- If you’re having trouble executing on your meal-planning and this is your system:

  1. Meal plan for the week on Saturday or Sunday
  2. Grocery shop on the weekend
  3. Come home after a long, stressful day
  4. Pick the recipe for the night
  5. Find the ingredients
  6. Cook the meal
  7. Clean up
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 every day (1 hour x 5 weekdays = 5 hours)

…then you may experience more success by:

  1. Planning to 2-3 go-to’s every week for which you don’t need a recipe & one new thing
  2. Grocery shopping on the weekend
  3. Batch cooking 2x a week - Proteins on Sundays/ Starches/Veggies on Wednesdays (1-2 hours per day)
  4. Come home after a long, stressful day
  5. Heat and plate dinner
  6. Clean up
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 (1-2 hrs/cooking day x 2 = 2-4 hrs/week)

Other ideas for batching:

  • Windows of time for all computer tasks (e.g., 10-10:30A, 4:30-5P) - email, finances, Facebook, etc.
  • Shopping/returns
  • Food prep
  • Meal prep - lunches
  • Laundry
  • Mail (Process mail 1x per week for 15 minutes instead of 5-15 min/day)

What can you batch this week to create more time in your life?

Serve

Great systems don’t just make one part of your life easier, they trickle out to every part of your life. Like our linchpin habits, they filter through and cause a chain reaction that both holds everything together and makes everything else better because of it.

If exercising is important to you, but you must drive 20 miles one way to train & it’s no longer restorative, then it’s time to simplify your system by finding a closer gym or creating a new habit. If you’re into eating healthy but you can’t enjoy a social situation because you don’t know the exact calories and macronutrients in your food, then maybe it’s time to address your relationship with food.

While there aren’t specific steps for this component, use it to help narrow your focus on what to focus on.

If it’s easier to eat healthy when you regularly exercise, then prioritize your exercise system FIRST, and your eating will soon follow.

If it’s easier to exercise at home when your exercise space is clean, focus on cleaning the space the night before you want to exercise.

If it’s easier to stick to your eating plan if there isn’t junk in the house, then clean out the junk instead of trying to eat more carrots.

Great systems serve you by making other habits easier to follow too. They help you focus on what’s important and forget the rest.

What are you focusing on?

+++

The Proverbs writers emphasize seeking wisdom above all things throughout the book. Wisdom is what helps us choose the right thing in the midst of gray. Wisdom is what whispers, “Go this way, not that.” And wisdom will help you identify roadblocks and build better systems in your life.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes,

“Wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.”

If you need another reason to embrace failure as practice, this is it.

Life runs by systems, whether we like it or not. By applying a bit of wisdom and ingenuity to our current systems, we can lose weight and feel better about ourselves without a complete diet and exercise makeover. Adopting a holy mindset by thinking like an engineer allows us to simplify our current systems and automate them so that we have more time, more energy, and more space for the things we love.

Digging Deeper:

  1. Share one of your exercises analyzing one of your systems. What is your main focus? And where are you able to make improvements?
  2. What did you learn about your systems through this process?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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