Are you over complicating things?

I was at our local Whole Foods Market® for a networking meeting. I drank a cup of tea (I’m not a coffee drinker) as a small group of us talked about our businesses and exchanged ideas.

After the meeting we said our goodbyes, I grabbed my empty cup and went to toss my trash. That’s when things got confusing. Was my empty cup plastic since it had a plastic lid on it? I wondered if it was compostable because of the tea bag? Was it co-mingled? All I could think of is that this “should” be so easy and it was so difficult.

Recycling is important, but I’m telling you it took me over a minute to figure out where to toss my cup and I’m still not sure I got it right. Talk about over complication!

We do this in our businesses every single day. We take something as simple as tossing a used paper cup and turn it into a complex project.

And you know what, it’s me too. We try to figure out the “best way” to do something and end up over complicating it so much that we don’t do it.

Here’s something I did.

I needed to make a bunch of sales calls to fill a program. I had my assistant compile lists of people I had met at events, people that had joined previous programs or purchased products, people who had heard me speak, and more. Lists, lists and more lists. I looked at the lists and froze. Who should I call first, what should I do?

You know what… it really wasn’t that hard. All I needed to do was pick up the phone and call someone, anyone at all. I had taken a straightforward need and overcomplicated the solution so much I was lost.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE systems. I love signs and reminders. I love having a set of rules to follow so that I don’t have to think about what to do and recreate the wheel each and every time.

Systems should make things easier. The system that Whole Foods created made it harder for me. The system I tried to create for myself made it harder for me.

When you set out to create a system you need to consider two things. First, what you really want the end result to be and second, who the system is for.

What I wanted was a simple list of people with phone numbers to call. I wonder what Whole Foods wants? It’s clear that they want the trash sorted, but who is the system for? I’m thinking this system is really for their employees; however, one result is confusion for at least one of their customers …me. I’m not sure what their intent was; however, if it was solely to help their employees, then it is a fine system.

Here are four steps for you to consider as you create systems in your business.

1. As you go through your day look at places where systems would help you. Consider things you do regularly or areas that you are having trouble getting a handle on.

2. Take a moment to decide what you want the end result of that system to be.

3. Outline the steps that need to happen to get you there.

4. Now the important part… work the system a few times and observe. Does it still make sense? Are you getting the results you want? Are you getting consequences that you didn’t expect or aren’t working for you? Does anything need to be tweaked or changed entirely?

Where are you going to put systems in? What systems do you already have that are more complicated than they need to be? What are you going to do to simplify things?

Author's Bio: 

Carrie Greene is a speaker, author and business coach. She is a business strategist and productivity expert for entrepreneurs. Carrie helps entrepreneurs get clear on what they want and create simple and straight-forward plans to get there. She is the author of "Chaos to Cash: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Eliminating Chaos, Overwhelm and Procrastination So You Can Create Ultimate Profit!" Free resources at