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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.