In several past entries, I’ve spoken about the importance of building and following systems if you want to become a highly effective person. On Twitch, this could involve setting up a pre-stream checklist, crafting an elevator pitch to introduce your shows, or keeping a calendar to become more focused on your various behind-the-scenes tasks. It’s amazing how much more reliable you can be when you plan out your actions in advance and stick to them. But maybe you’re still having trouble keeping your habits in check. You may have heard heard me talk about these systems I’ve implemented, but figured they just weren’t for you. Or maybe you did try to put them into action, but couldn’t get them to work properly. In this entry, I’ll help you to utilize systems more effectively in order to strengthen your streaming habits.
➢ THE FORGETFUL STUDENT
Systems are most effective at targeting very specific problems and eliminating them. By using a process like this, you’re essentially retraining your brain from the ground up. The best way I can explain the use and ultimate effectiveness of this method would be to turn back time and explore the first major system I ever implemented in my personal life.
|I didn't have a good excuse for being forgetful either,|
like this guy.
When I was in college, I used to lock myself out of my dorm room a lot. I couldn’t tell you why- I had never been a particularly forgetful person in other respects, and I had never locked myself out of any other places I lived. But for some reason, despite trying to make sure I remembered whether I brought my key with me upon leaving the room, I regularly had to make trips to the RA or kill time until my roommate got back because I had left my key behind. I knew something had to change. So I decided to see what would happen if I implemented a really strict routine for myself when going out. From that point onward, any time I was about to leave my room, I would put my foot out to stop the door from closing. Then, I had to be physically holding onto my key and looking directly at it, before I’d let the door click shut. It didn’t matter if I could feel the key in my pocket, or even if I remembered having just picked it up. I had to be holding the key in my hand and looking at it, no matter what.
It sounds silly and overly rigid, but in the ten years since implementing that system into my daily routine, I’ve never once forgotten the key to my dorm, my apartment, or any hotel room where I’ve stayed on business. This one simple change solved a very tangible problem for me, and it’s all because I put my trust into building and following a system. Since then, I’ve solved other problems in the same way. After identifying something wrong with me that I couldn’t figure out how to fix, I removed my own memory or skill set from the equation, and simply trained myself to follow a script. And when building a Twitch channel, this has helped me to maximize my efficiency in several fields.
➢ REPROGRAM YOURSELF
So if you’re having trouble remembering to turn on your camera before a stream, or can’t get your spoken introduction down properly, how can you use systems to improve your consistency? What makes a system work instead of just trying to remember? It’s because systems take a shortcut to your unconscious brain. Instead of having to think about doing something, you simply do it because that’s what you do. Think of when you learned to drive a car. When you started out, you had to think about each action you executed, and this probably made you very nervous. I know that for me, merging onto the highway felt like a life-or-death experience every single time. But years later, it’s as simple as can be. I know where I’m supposed to look, how quickly to accelerate, and all sorts of other things, without having to think about them at all. That's because it’s become a part of my unconscious brain- I’m doing something with almost no need for analytical thought. It’s simply a mindless task that gets done the same way every time.
|Fast-track the internalization process.|
I’ve found that we can fast-track other tasks to become unconscious in this way, if we only change the context in which they’re executed. For example, the reason I never forgot my keys after implementing that system wasn’t because the tasks improved my memory, but because I specifically setup a system in which I couldn’t allow myself to leave without the keys, even if I did forget them. When they weren’t in my hand, I had to go back inside and grab them before leaving. The reason it worked is because I put absolutely zero faith in my own ability to remember whether I had my keys, and put all my trust in the system I had created to make up for my deficiency. Like programming a piece of computer software, it’s just a matter of picking the right actions in placing them in the correct order.
You can do the same with your Twitch habits. Any action which doesn’t require critical thinking can be mentally automated, as long as you create a solid system, and then learn to trust that system implicitly. Similar to the ‘Architect and Builder’ concept I described in the entry Separate Your Two Streaming Selves, as long as you’ve planned out what you’re going to do, you just need to execute on those plans in the moment. I talked in the entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming about using a calendar rigidly and effectively, so you don’t allow yourself to let other plans strong-arm streaming out of your days. In Your Twitch Channel Needs an Elevator Pitch, I helped you to pre-plan your channel introduction, so you can speak more coherently when describing your content. These systems aren’t always perfect from the first iteration either- in the entry Perfecting Your Pre-Stream Checklist, I went through a few methods of how you can revise your workflow in order to optimize results. As long as you keep planning and revising, you’ll be able to eliminate some of the mistakes that most frequently haunt your content.
➢ CRAFTING BETTER RESULTS
Of course, I’m not suggesting you obsessively create ritualistic actions for every single stream-related task. But when you have a serious issue- either trying to break a certain bad habit, or form a good one- it’s time to focus less on thinking and more on following orders. By building a strong enough system, it will prevent you from making that mistake ever again. As the Greek philosopher Archilochus said, "We don't rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training." When we’re distracted or under pressure is when we’re most at risk of making mistakes, but by implementing a foolproof system beforehand, we’ll be prepared for anything. This technique has been immensely helpful for me, and I hope you’ll find just as much success in strengthening your Twitch habits!