In the system or on the system?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the difference between working “in” the system and working “on” the system. This is an area I want to grow in as I can so easily get caught up in working in the day to day whirlwind of activity without stepping back to think, question and analyze the things I’m doing and the projects I’m leading.

Three ways I try and work “on” the system.

1. Scheduling quarterly reviews for myself. Taking a day a quarter to reflect, re-focus and prioritize is something I’m trying to incorporate into my schedule. Michael Hyatt’s Creating a Personal Life Plan provides some good tracks to run on for this.

2. Creating blueprints. I’m trying to take more time to develop multi-month plans for key projects. Instead of waking up in the morning and reacting to what comes at me or merely having the plan it my head, having a broadstrokes blueprint of what needs to be done by when is helpful in prioritizing working on the right things. This allows me, in a moment of non-reactive sanity, to work out the steps and dependencies of what needs to get done long before it becomes urgent.

My wife and I recently made a six-month fundraising plan for our ministry. It was fun to sit back and think through how we wanted to position our strategy over the next six months and the big components of it. This allows us to proactively plan and adjust rather than always feeling behind.

3. Asking for feedback. “How am I doing?” I recently asked my boss. “Am I on the right track or what things need to be adjusted?” Getting honest feedback from my boss and other colleagues allows me to make mid-course adjustments and proactively work “on” the system, not merely busying myself meeting the demands of those around me.

How do you make sure you are taking time to work “on” the system, not just “in” it?


1 thought on “In the system or on the system?

  1. Good words – so huge to take a step back and build some things into things into your planning so you don’t feel like you’re in survival mode all the time. I agree – I’m seeing more and more the value of being intentional with 2-3 month planning in areas of priority.


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