When we want to create structured work-related methods and ways, we need functional tools that help us do what we want to get done.
These might be physical items such as boxes, drawers, stands, binders, shelves, jars, hole punchers, pens, scissors, rulers and so on.
But the tools we use are of course becoming increasingly digital, and tend to consist of apps, services, and software. They store information we need, perform operations we do not want to do ourselves, deliver what we need when we most need it, and are the actual tools in or with which we create the essence of what our job is all about - such as create articles on structure, for instance.
An inverted clean-up
One common pitfall some of us fall into is that they obtain all the tools first and then begin structuring themselves and their work to fit the tools. When they start a new job or get a new office, they head out to buy letter trays, magazine holders, boxes and a number of pretty storage-items they believe they will need. But once they get back to the office, they have a hard time thinking of what to put in all of these new storage-possibilities. This is where you might unintentionally confuse yourself. After all, you might think in one way when organizing your office during that first week, but then reason along completely different lines once you are up and running.
A digital equivalent of this problem is if we download all the smart apps we hear of and create accounts (often for free) in all the cloud-based services that are hot right now. We use them half-heartedly in a few different contexts, and eventually, end up feeling uncertain which service or app we used for what project.
Once again, we have made life more difficult for ourselves than need be, and have to spend time looking for information or doing tasks twice. In both these instances, it is as if we try to construct our entire structure before we even begin using it and putting it to the test.
Start with something, not everything
Instead of taking this approach, focus on your need first and on the tool that will help you satisfy this need second. You do not have to construct the perfect structure first and then begin using it. Start where you stand, by structuring one aspect of where you are and what you have in front of you, and solve one single structure-related problem first. When you have made this solution work, move on to the next problem or aspect. And so on.
If you want to make the structuring itself easier, then right now ask yourself:
- What structure-related problem do you want to focus on first?
- What structuring tool have you gotten and still never used, which is unrelated to this first problem you are attempting to solve? Remove it or at least put it away for a while, so that it is not cluttering your space (be it physical or digital). Not too long ago I realized that I have a hole puncher and it occurred to me that I no longer use binders, meaning I no longer have an actual need for a hole puncher. I guess I thought ”you are supposed to have a hole puncher” in a supply store at some point.
- What is the next, smallest step you can take towards solving your issue or structure-related problem? Do it right away or create a to-do-task that tells you to do it and add it to your list.
Steady does it
If you improve your structure little by little instead of getting ahead of yourself and trying to get it all up and running in one go, the change will not get the better of you and you will allow yourself to gradually discover solutions to your problems that actually help you. You build your new structure one step at a time and will not have to wait until it is finished before enjoying the benefits of having solved problems and found smoother working methods. You can celebrate small steps of progress often, and enjoy your life getting a little easier with every step.
What is your way?
What is the next structure-related problem you want to address? Feel free to leave a comment to share your thoughts on the matter.