A good system reduces your reliance on:
3. Decision making
4. Emotional resilience
(Yes, physical effort too, but that’s not so germaine to game audio.)
I could leave the post like this, but I want to reinforce this point.
Memory: the more external reminders you get the more your mind is freed up to muse, imagine, and explore.
Willpower: the more tasks are broken down into smaller components the easier it is to focus on each one. Also, performing tasks when you know you’ll be in the right frame of mind makes then easier to perform.
Decision making: the more that simple decisions can be routinized the more you can focus on the big picture (ie., forming systems to handle groups of decisions) and the more cognitive power you have left over for complex decisions.
Emotional resilience: don’t waste energy on avoidable toxicity.
It’s easy to confuse systems with goals. Scott Adams distinguishes between them:
“Goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life. Systems have no deadlines, and on any given day you probably can’t tell if they’re moving you in the right direction.”
This understanding carries an implicit critique of goals.
“Thinking of goals and systems as very different concepts has power. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.”
As Scott points out you can waste a lot of time playing semantic games defining the two. It’s best to simply approach each situation with “how can I be more systems focused?”
What does that mean? Break an activity down into a repeatable process that you can always apply. Whenever something doesn’t work out the way you want it to, think of something that’s low effort which works to bring eventual success.
Finally, if all you’ve got is a checklist, as Nick Taleb might point out, you don’t stand to benefit from unforeseen opportunities. (To be honest, I would love to write more about Taleb’s ideas, but I wouldn’t know how to do them justice at the moment. All I can say is, go out and read everything by him you can.)
And that’s it for systems.
And if you were curious, this was typed mostly on the train or during times when I couldn’t focus on composing. If I veered into a topic that would take me hours to explain, I pulled back. As soon as I detected a stopping point, I stopped. And when I put this on my website, I gave myself 20 minutes to proofread and format it.