“Having good structure is to know” my business friend replied over lunch the other day when I asked what structure means to her.
Indeed, that is “tried and true”.
Where you are
If you have good structure, you know where you are in relation to where you want to be (in your professional life or in your business, for example), as opposed to if your structure was not good, then you would stand as if on a quagmire without being firmly rooted neither in history nor in the future.
What you do
You know that you are advancing in the major initiatives or project that you initiated in order to create a better tomorrow. What you would not know if you did not “know”, is what these small and large projects would be, and you would not know if any of them were standing still or in danger of being neglected.
What the right thing to do right now is
If you did not have good structure, you would not know what the right thing to give priority to right now would be, since you would not be aware of what all the possible things that you have to do are, due to that you do not have them gathered in a designated place.
Neither would you know what to-do-items are hiding in that pile over there, to the left on your desk. Perhaps there is something in the pile that suddenly it is too late to do, but which would have created new opportunities if only you had completed it in time (since it did not take too long to do after all, once you got to it).
Where it is
When you have good structure, you know exactly where in your papers you should be looking to find that particular document. You also know that your system for paper-reference-materials will be intact even if you open a window and let the spring winds sweep in, since you have found a safer storage space for it than in stacks and piles on the desk.
What others do for you
When your personal workday-structure is of a constructive kind, you know what you are waiting for from others and you know that you are still in no hurry to remind whomever it may be that you need to get what you are waiting for. When on the other hand it isn’t good (your structure, that is), you realize way too late that you should have received a certain material from a colleague before you went to the meeting and that you now have to think on your feet and wing it, because in front of you sits who you are hoping will become your next customer.
So, what do you prefer — to know or not know?
If you choose “to know”, read this
If you want to know, make sure you have formulated what is to you a clear and attractive vision of how you want it (your company, your job, your life) to be in a couple of years. Also make sure you have a place, a document, a map, or a system where you can see all the projects or larger initiatives that you have ongoing at the moment and make sure that you can pair each project with at least one next step that constitutes a to-do-item on your to-do-list.
Ah, the to-do-list. Make sure you only have one. Be careful when formulating the tasks you have to do and make them “small” enough to enable you to do them in a single go. If they in turn consist of several steps, they are actually projects and should be put on the project-list (from which you formulate the next step, which is put on the to-do-list).
Finally, make it a habit to write down everything you are waiting for from others in a single place (in a list, in a document, or something like it). Not everyone is as structured as you are. Just because they say they “will get back you before Wednesday”, you cannot be sure they will remember to do so.
Do you really need to know?
“Ignorance is bliss” — well, perhaps for a while, but not in the long run.
So, join the conscious, knowing crowd, you too!
How do you do it?
How do you know when you do not know? How do you get an overview when you do not have it?
You are most welcome to leave a comment below.