Do you keep creating new ways of structuring all the time? Do you try so many different solutions on how to keep track of everything you have to do, that you end up no longer feeling in control the way you wish to be?
Do you easily forget where you usually stow away a certain material, with the result that you choose to put it away in a new place and it hence becomes even harder to find it next time?
In this case, it sounds as though you needlessly make life more complicated than it needs to be. Obviously you have got every intention of finding the perfect solution, but on the way I am guessing it might get a bit laborious and stressful.
For me, one of the main benefits of having good structure is that I can be certain that what is kept in a place where I store all the same material of a given type is really all there is of that particular kind. If I skim through my overview of the major tasks I need to complete over time (projects, changes, initiatives), I do not have to think about whether I have made note of any more of them anywhere else. If I open the folder with all the tax-returns, all the other tax-return papers should be there as well and nowhere else. And so on.
Don’t search and find it anyway
It all depends on whether we have made it easy for ourselves to remember where something is supposed to be placed and when. If you instead tend to create new places and thus spread your stored material out in different locations, you will have a hard time getting an overview and hence should create a structure-guide for yourself.
Create a guide, a manual, or a map of the places you keep your structure-components in.
- First of all you need to determine what format you prefer
- A list?
- A mindmap? (This happens to be my preferred choice)
- A flowchart?
- Something entirely different?
- Now create the guide. What you need to identify and map out is
- To-do-tasks — What is the only location where you make note of these?
- Overview of all your ongoing major and more extensive tasks (each of which consists of several to-do-tasks)
- Reference-materials — That is to say, all the information you do not know when you will need, but which you will need to find quickly and easily once you need it, such as
- Digital files and documents
- Paper-documents (In for example binders, hanging file folders , et c )
- The kind of material you know exactly when you will need, just not right now:
- Digital files — Are these accessible whenever you need them?
- Papers and physical objects — Where do you put them so that you can not possibly forget to bring them?
- Brilliant ideas you can not execute now, but perhaps sometime later on
- Notes you have made on everything you are expecting from other people and which you need to follow up on and make sure that you get in time.
- Checklists and routine-descriptions — Meaning, descriptions of how you do what you do, created to get what you need to get done a little more automatically than you otherwise would
- The goals you are responsible for this week, this month, and this year (since you will need to be able to access them quickly when you are making conscious choices on which amongst your tasks to prioritize)
- Ask yourself :
- Have I got more places for any of these categories than I actually need?
- Is there any place that actually is so inaccessible that I tend to store material elsewhere instead of putting it where it is supposed to be?
- Where should I save this guide so it is easy to spot when I need it the most?
- Are you going to print it and hang it on the wall within eyesight from your desk?
- Do you put it in the bag that you always carry with you?
- Do you create a shortcut to it on your computer desktop and allow it to remain there for a few weeks until it is obvious to you where every structural component should be?
- If you decide you want to change something, formulate the change as a to-do-task and add it to your to-do-list. This makes it easy to get going with initializing the change instead of just thinking you should do it some other time.
Let the wizard guide you
If you create a structure guide according to the instructions provided above, it will be easy to find material that you unnecessarily save in several places and for which it hence becomes unclear where to look for (and hence where you should store things away).
When you from now on receive something you want to save in a safe spot (so that you can easily find it) while waiting for you to take action on it or that you need the material, you will feel that you know how to save it so that you know where it is, and hence be able to relax even when things are as most stressful at work.
How do you do it?
What is your best way to stick to the structure you have decided to use, instead of continuously making up new ways of working?
Continuity is a prerequisite for success in establishing a good structure in your working environment and that is why your tip is warmly welcomed. Share it with me!