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03 Apr

Could you get too much of the good stuff?


Date: 2017-04-03 16:01 Comments: 0 st

During an interview I gave the other day I was asked ”Isn’t there a risk that we structure things too much?”. I understand this concern, and I get this question from time to time.

You can abuse virtually anything. Hypothetically we could get a driver’s license and enjoy driving so much that we would just keep driving and driving until it finally influences our relationships with family and friends. But, I would say that this scenario rarely (or never) occurs.

Only one in many years
Throughout all the years working in the field I can barely remember meeting anyone who structures their work too much. I can bring to mind a single person who by routine printed out several copies of digital material, as well as labeled and sorted things in a cumbersome physical system. But, again, this is the only one I have met.

It is much more common that we do not have enough structure and that we therefore have less time than we would like for what matters to us. We look for things, we forget things, we prioritize incorrectly, we do things which we have already done. Almost all my clients and mentees need more structure, not less.

Forget about it
So, if you fear that you would over-structure your work if you were to improve on your structure, think again. Throw yourself into simplifying your workday and if you would ever feel hesitant, try the new method anyway. You can always stop and go back to your old ways if you would feel that a method takes more energy and time than it gives back.

If you want to be on the safe side in terms of a few areas which can use some structural improvements, then ask yourself in all honesty:

  • do you ever create labels or tags which you then do not use?

  • do you save something in two places just in case when it isn’t actually necessary?

  • are your meetings structured in such a rigid way that there is no space for spontaneity?

  • have you lost the joy of doing a particular task because you have locked yourself in a narrow and limited method or habit?

If so, then it is time to put some structural detail aside, but make sure you do not put it away too soon after implementing it because just as with shoes, structural habits need to be worn and used for a while before you can determine if they fit you.

Get into it
If you daringly implement new structural habits instead of hesitating due to fearing that they would take over and become a hinderance rather than help, you will experience the benefits of structure to a greater extent and much more often. Your work will run smoother, you will be able to plan further in advance, you will have more time for the most important tasks, and much more. Believe me, it is worth the risk.

What is your hesitation about?
Is there some structural change you would like to make, but which you keep putting off making or feel hesitant towards? Tell me in a comment below. 

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