The “Systems Mindset” for Influencers and Creators: How to Be Strategically Lazy

Jesse Clemmens
Jesse Clemmens
Co-Founder @ HiBeam
Cover Image for The “Systems Mindset” for Influencers and Creators: How to Be Strategically Lazy

A "systems mindset" is one in which you invest additional time upfront to save yourself time in the future.

You might already be doing versions of systemization without knowing it. 

For example, are there 10 questions that you answer over and over again? Do you have the responses saved in a notepad to copy and paste into messages? Or better yet, saved replies set up? If you've done anything like this in the past, you have a "systems mindset" applied to creator communication or audience engagement.

Another term for the "systems mindset" is "Strategic Laziness" as coined by Nat Eliason

"Laziness" is seen as working smarter and not harder. 

You may be thinking, "Why should I adopt a 'systems mindset'?" Keep reading to find out how it can save you time.

  1. Scaling yourself: to grow as a content creator, you can't simply work harder; you need to work smarter. The allure of the creator job is the ability for a person to potentially reach millions of audience members with a push of a button. Never before has it been easier for individuals to build large audiences, which were traditionally the domain of large organizations via TV, print, and radio publishing. But while building an audience as an individual creator can be easier than ever, in some ways, the amount of opportunity and work resting on a sole person (rather than a company) is also unprecedented. Scaling yourself means adopting processes that will allow you to grow without dropping the ball.

  2. Avoid creator burnout: like any job, creators are susceptible to burnout, a general term that can include many different symptoms like anxiety, lack of enjoyment, and procrastination. By adopting a "systems mindset" and systemizing your work, you can remove stress and do more of the work that energizes you.

Short vs. Long Term Thinking: Why It Takes Effort to Systematize

The "systems mindset" of strategic laziness is a habit that you need to build, and just like any habit, it takes some effort. Almost any good system will take some additional upfront effort. 

Let's use a non-creator example. Imagine you, like many others, find yourself flooded with physical junk mail. Maybe 1 in 10 pieces of mail is important and needs some sort of action from you. It could be a wedding invite or a bill you need to pay, but the other 9 are junk, political campaigns, grocery coupons, etc. Each day you check your mailbox and pull out the mail, but is there a way for you to focus on the mail that needs attention and pay less attention to the junk?

A short-term mindset would have a clear solution, throw the mail on the kitchen counter, and deal with it later. Once a week, when you can no longer put it off, you sit down and sift through everything, which takes additional time and perhaps causes stress. 

The "systems mindset" would have a different solution. The upfront investment, in this case, is spending 5 minutes on Amazon and selecting a mail organizer with two sections, Junk and Important. With your new system in place, you walk in with the mail each day and quickly sort between the two. You now have a stack of ONLY the important stuff you can deal with whenever your schedule fits. You also have a stack of junk, which you can purge as often as you'd like. 

The point is that by investing 5 minutes upfront, you cut your "mail thinking" time down. Systemization is the priceless gift time to "Future-You." 

That upfront investment is, on some level, painful. It requires more of your time, and your brain will say, "the stack on the counter is fine; it only takes a few minutes to deal with." But let's finish the analogy by quantifying the gift: 

So, which mindset do you want to pass along to "Future You?"

How to Apply To Your Life as a Content Creator

Identify the things you enjoy doing. Do you love writing? Keep that task. Don't systematize it. Protect it as it brings you energy and helps to prevent burnout.

Identify the things that are both repetitive and that you'd prefer not to do. 

Figure out how you can systematize those items. What can you do ahead of time that will make work easier for Future-You? How can you be Strategically Lazy?

Easy Examples of Systems Mindset in Action 

  • Build a Content Machine: build a content machine rather than looking for original ideas or content for every channel. A process for using every content piece that you make to its maximum potential. For example, if you're a podcaster, you can pull three audio clips to post to Instagram each time you publish an episode. Gary Vaynerchuck has a great piece on content machines if you want to learn more. 

  • Use Email Templates: you likely have at least two to three responses that you frequently give, such as scheduling a meeting or declining a business opportunity you're not interested in. Rather than repeatedly re-writing the same sentiment, you should spend a little extra time writing a version that applies to most situations and saving it as an email template. In Gmail, this is extremely easy and takes 5 minutes but can save you time and mental energy down the road. 

  • Try Message Management Tools: using a tool like HiBeam, you can save yourself time and energy by sorting through hundreds of messages and comments.  Think of HiBeam as a digital version of the mail analogy used above, saving you time so that you can focus on responding to only the items that matter most. 

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Why A "Systems Mindset" Matters for Creators More Than Anyone Else

Like most creators, you've probably built a brand around your unique personality. In some ways, creators benefit from a clear delineation between what can and cannot be delegated based on whether or not their visible personality is required. Recording a video? Non-delegate-able. Setting up a Shopify site? Totally delegate-able!   

While this might seem like a firm line drawn around content production, there is a happy in-between. For example, if you've provided the raw video, you can then delegate how this content flows through your content machine. 

Similarly, suppose you've created a certain aesthetic or look to your creations. In that case, you might employ other designers to produce content within the lines of your original aesthetic or look.

Because there is a finite amount of time that you can spend on creating and because your unique personality and brand depend on your creation. You should spend as much time on the creative elements of content creation and less on the operational aspects, which can be systematized, outsourced, or handed to software. 

How a "Systems Mindset" Can Help You Avoid Creator Burnout

Creator Burnout is a real challenge. No matter what type of job or passion you follow, you're susceptible to burnout as a human being. Burnout is a general term that can include many different symptoms: anxiety, lack of enjoyment, and procrastination. One possible antidote to creator burnout is spending more time on the types of work that you enjoy. By employing a systems mindset, you can reduce the amount of time and mental energy spent on repetitive or draining tasks and increase your time on what you enjoy and draw energy from. 

Summary

Employing a "Systems Mindset is a "macro skill" that you can apply to many areas of your business as a creator. While it's a fancy name, the technique is simple; invest additional but limited time upfront to save yourself time and mental energy in the future. 

The seemingly unlimited upside and opportunity of being a content creator don't come without its burdens. But by focusing on ways to reduce time spent on repetitive, draining tasks, you'll stay focused and energized as you grow on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or wherever your content lives.

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