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06 Jun

Are you structured enough to be able to relax?

Datum: 2012-06-06 12:00

When it is time for time off, such as last summer’s vaca­tion, most of us want to feel and be freer our ordi­nary lives nor­mal­ly lets us. 

It feels good to allow for thoughts to flow freely and do what­ev­er comes to mind. 

It is a true priv­i­lege to be able to let go of work and every­thing that our ordi­nary lives con­sist of, but unfor­tu­nate­ly not every­one can do this effort­less­ly as the clock strikes 5pm on Fri­day afternoon.

As long as I am not a per­son who care­less­ly shrugs my shoul­ders and always rests assured in com­plete faith that all will be alright, I need to feel cer­tain that noth­ing will sur­prise me, so that I will be able to relax once I am off-duty”.

Mind you that this might as well con­cern a sit­u­a­tion at work, one that has noth­ing to do with our holiday.

Some­times we need to delve deep­er into a task dur­ing a longer peri­od of time; for a day, a week, or a month. In order for us to be able to devote our­selves com­plete­ly to the task, we need to be able to relax in the knowl­edge that every­thing else that needs to con­tin­ue func­tion­ing and flow, does so. 

It may appear to be para­dox­i­cal, but we need to have a good struc­ture to rely on when we want to be more un-struc­tured for a while. 

The right thing right now

Hav­ing good struc­ture helps you be cer­tain that you do not need to do some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent now instead of for instance reflect on some­thing or brain-storm. 

When you are stand­ing on a foun­da­tion of good struc­ture, you know that when the moment comes when you want to set an idea into action, you have a set of tools and meth­ods that rep­re­sent your struc­ture, which are just wait­ing for you to make use of them.

You can apply them to any idea or notion that comes to you and get start­ed with ease. 

But if you do not have a good struc­ture to rely on you will con­stant­ly need to remem­ber things, keep them in your head, and will there­fore have a hard time relax­ing com­plete­ly from your unstruc­tured workday. 

Do this

  1. Take a moment to think about where you would look if you need to know what the next to-do-task is right now. Is it easy to check and make sure you haven’t for­got­ten to do something? 
    You need to keep the loca­tions where you write your tasks in to a min­i­mum, and prefer­ably you only have a sin­gle place, so that check­ing the list is eas­i­ly done. If pos­si­ble, it would be great is you could view your bank of to-do-tasks from at least three dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives; when some­thing is due, what project it con­cerns, and what you can do where you hap­pen to be right now. 
  2. Also think about how your process for ini­ti­at­ing a new project looks today (which can be either a prop­er project with a project-group, project-plans et c, but it might as well be a to-do-task that takes more than a day to complete). 
    • Where do you make note of the sta­tus of the project, if it is active or not, and what is the pro­ce­dure you fol­low to ensure that you are progressing?
    • If you have a com­pre­hen­sive project-overview that is easy to grasp and where you can add the next step effort­less­ly, it will be eas­i­er to make sure no projects are neglected. 
  3. Take a look at the desk in front of you and your com­put­er desk­top. If you see a lot of papers that you do not want to mis­place and files you oth­er­wise risk loos­ing into the fold­er-struc­ture some­where on the hard-dri­ve, it might be a sign that your method of stor­ing doc­u­ments and infor­ma­tion isn’t optimal. 

    Try to fig­ure out why you have cho­sen to have these doc­u­ments here in your field of view rather than stored in a place where you will eas­i­ly find them.

    • Are they dif­fi­cult to store or file away?
    • Do you need to get out of you chair and move around in your office to do so?
    • Are you out of binders?
    • Do you find it dif­fi­cult to attach the tags to the hang­ing-file folders?
    • Do you have sev­er­al loca­tions for stor­age to choose from?
    • Do you feel ner­vous that you will not find them if you file them away?

    Aim at hav­ing as few places for stor­ing ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al as pos­si­ble. Make it easy to file away doc­u­ments you do not need now, but will need at a lat­er date:

    • Keep you stor­age at arm’s length from you desk. 
    • Have at least one emp­ty binder on your desk so that you can avoid putting the pile on your desk until you have got­ten more binders. 
    • Decide once and for all what cat­e­gories you will sort your mate­r­i­al by, for instance; the name of your sup­pli­er, the pro­duce-code, the func­tion of the device, or a sim­i­lar clas­si­fi­ca­tion, when fil­ing away the fly­er con­cern­ing some­thing you might pur­chase lat­er on.
  4. Write down what chan­nels you receive infor­ma­tion through, and what types of I am unfor­tu­nate­ly busy”-messages you need to cre­ate for each and every one of them, so that you can remain undis­turbed when you need to be left alone.

    • What about your e‑mail? Do you have sev­er­al address­es that will need an Out-of-office-message?
    • What is the eas­i­est way of noti­fy­ing your colleagues?
    • How do you turn off your office phone?
    • What type of mes­sage should you cre­ate for your voice­mail-inbox on your phone? 

Make this map of incom­ing chan­nels into a check­list that you can take out and check off when­ev­er you need to remain undis­turbed for a while or when you go on holiday.

Good struc­ture enables let­ting go of being structured

If you make sure to have a firm struc­ture-foun­da­tion to stand on you will to a greater extent than you oth­er­wise would feel free and be undis­turbed when you choose to. 

You can let go and give your­self entire­ly to being spon­ta­neous and unstruc­tured when you know that every­thing is tak­en care of and will be alright with­out your con­stant attention. 

What is your way?

How do you make sure you can unplug from all the dis­tract­ing ele­ments of ordi­nary life to be able to let go, think freely and be inspired by new ideas? Lev­ae a com­ment to let me and oth­ers know.