There are some things we’ve got to do which, like the constant buzzing of a summer fly, annoys us so immensely that it makes us spend too much time and energy on grieving over and dwelling on it, or maybe even walk around really irritated due to it.
We lose perspective, and not only do those annoying things feel numerous, but they feel very overwhelming and comprehensive as well.
It’s these things put together that puts a heavy load on our shoulders, like a cumbersome yoke, which makes us feel that everything goes against us and that it’s ”just too much right now”.
But, what are these things?
For me, it’s often an object that needs to be repaired, has a malfunction or has just stopped working.
But it might also be one of these things:
- That you can’t print from the printer because something is wrong with it.
- That there are too many unread e‑mails in the inbox (and there came another one …)
- Something that must be purchased to our home but which we always seem to forget.
- Something we’ve decided to get started, but have not been able to get going with yet.
- Something we’ve started but not completed yet, and never seem to find time to complete, so now it simply sits in the air.
- We’ve ripped up a hole in something and need to fix it.
- There’s grass to be cut, a greenhouse which needs new glass, tires needing to be changed.
- Books lying unread on the bedside table and eagerly waiting to be read.
- Things that we borrowed and have to return, but forget to bring with us again and again.
- That we have thought of contacting a specific person, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
- Something is broken and has to be handed in for repair, but it never seems to happen.
We call them leaven; they tend to drag on endlessly, like a fermenting sourdough.
And, they annoy us without any good reason. In fact, we can derive energy from them by starting to act.
Where does structure fit in?
One of the big benefits of good structure is, as I see it, that it makes it possible for us to regain our power to act by taking control over the situation. Good structure is the tool to get us in the driver’s seat in our everyday lives, instead of riding in the back seat and hope that everything will be okay just by itself.
Now, do like this:
- Take a blank sheet of paper
- Decide to write down fifty things that annoy you right now.
- Go ahead and write. If you’re like me, you’ll not write down as many as fifty, even though it felt like there were at least a hundred of them before you started writing. Enjoy the pleasant feeling that comes when you, after writing for example twenty eight things, try to think of more things and you notice that your head is totally empty (which it hasn’t been for a while).
- Be content with the things you’ve come up with.
- Now decide to take care of one sourdough per day, starting today. If they’re too extensive, choose one per week. Can you handle more than one a day – just go for it!
- To get started with the first leaven, think about what is the smallest first step you could possibly take to solve the problem. Take that step.
- Continue until all leavens are dealt with, or until you no longer think it’s a problem that they aren’t completed.
By writing down all these things, you make them tangible. All of them will regain reasonable proportions and you can easily determine what priority they really have.
Most likely, you’ll very soon feel lighter, as the yoke is lifted off your shoulders, even before all irritable, unsettled tasks are completed. You have the power to act rather than feel like a victim of the circumstances and you are tempted to exclaim, “Bring it on – Now I’m ready for anything!”
Also in terms of business
It’s also possible to do this in your business. A few years ago SJ (the National Swedish Railway) declared 100 (if I remember it correctly) concrete things they had decided to improve and published them in newspapers as full-page advertisements. It contained things that had annoyed both the company and their customers. As they completed the improvements, they checked them off, and then re-published the list again.
How do you do it?
What’s your way of regaining control when you feel like everything is going wrong?
You are most welcome to leave a comment below.