It’s a system, not magic!

By Emily Bouchard


I don’t know about you, but I’ve recently been sucked up into a Netflix hole: Get Organized with The Home Edit

Each episode the sweet (and semi-neurotic) hosts, Clea and Joanna, meet up with a new person who has an organizational challenge - their closets, kitchens, garages are overstuffed. 


And each episode Clea and Joanna diligently follow their three-step process to edit, categorize, and contain. 


Reese Witherspoon Home GIF By NETFLIX



The thing is though, they often end up revisiting clients - because not everyone is able to keep the end result they love so much in effect. The moment - or maybe even a few weeks after - Joanna and Clea leave them with their beautiful, newly rainbow-ordered space - the system fails. 


As I was watching this curious habit unfold time and time again, I started to think of all the project management tools and systems I have implemented over the years. And how we often start out motivated and wanting to embrace the system, but a few weeks in - it’s falling apart. 


Systems are not magic. Systems require maintenance. 


All systems are human-powered. Let’s talk project / task management tools, for example. If you go to a meeting and you are tasked with action items - your project management tool relies on you to inform it. It’s not magic - it’s regular maintenance. 




Just kidding - it’s super hard to begin with, but the good news is - it’s not impossible, and eventually just becomes a habit once you follow through on the initial commitment. We need to build up the habits that support our systems. When it comes to project management tools that means:

  1. Edit: Break down the tasks you need to complete - step by step to reach the end goal of your action item 
  2. Categorize: Ensure you know the priority of each task and who is responsible for each part and/or who you’ll be working with to get it done
  3. Contain: Actually enter the tasks into your project management tool


And the even better news is, the more we practice this kind of maintenance, the more your project management tool will support your everyday tasks and planning. It will start to feel like magic. 


But it’s not magic. It’s maintenance.