If you are well on your way in terms of creating and applying good structure you will surely have experienced the benefits of working systematically and consciously in your everyday life.
My mentees often feel motivated by the progress they have made and want to refine their methods even further.
When we have the basics under control by having a to-do-list, clearly defined goals and have all our papers and files in order, it is easy to feel as if we have reached a plateau. We want to become even more structured, but how and in what? Few things are as ambiguous as an ambition to become more structured in general, so we need to get specific.
Hence, clarify what your structure-traps or -pitfalls are, and put your effort into making improvements in these areas.
Directing your efforts to improve your structure this way will make the refinements you make more effective with less effort. It will be much easier to determine how successful you are in changing your ways and you can reward yourself abundantly without feeling bad about it.
This is as good a time as any to start concretizing what you primarily want to focus on improving in the next few months.
- Identify in which situations you tend to get more unstructured or deviate fully from your established good habits of structure.
Some of my most common pitfalls are:
- I can start checking my e-mail inbox when I am struggling with another task, which results in me answering some e-mail I received and hence eventually loose both track of time and what I was in the middle of.
- I get tempted to ”just check Facebook for a little while” when I have a boring and tedious task ahead.
- I am ”just going to Google something really quickly”, and suddenly I find myself having spent thirty minutes reading articles on a completely different topic than that which I was originally working with.
- When I am on a business-trip I tend to dump business-cards I receive (often with notes on the back regarding things I have promised the person in question I would get back to them with), loose notes, receipts and other such papers in the plastic folder which constitutes my portable inbox in my bag in order to have it all in one place as I return to the office and can take care of it. If the trip lasts for a few days and it takes some time before I am back at the office, I tend to get delayed in for instance getting back to someone since I tend to mentally let go of the commitment or promise I made the moment I put the business-card in the folder.
- For each of the structure-traps you listed above, decide on a strategy with which to address the issue, something concrete you can do in the particular situation to stop yourself from falling into the trap again.
For me this could for example be:
- Closing the e-mailing program completely when I should not be processing e-mails.
- Removing the shortcut to Facebook and thus making it at least a little bit more difficult for me to open it for a ”quick look”.
- Making note of what I want to google in a document rather than straying from working with the more tedious and strenuous task.
- Establish a habit of emptying and processing the portable inbox immediately as I arrive at my hotel room.
If you think about it, what could be one of your traps?
- Write down and document what you have concluded regarding your structure-traps wherever you keep your reference material on how you can improve your structure so that it will be easy to remind yourself of your findings later on.
- Determine which one of the structure-pitfalls you will work on improving for the next while. The golden rule is to take small steps when it comes to these types of improvements as well.
- When you feel that the new habit is in place and you no longer fall into the trap, move on to improving the next one.
Take the next step
If you in a systematic manner make it clear to yourself what areas that could use further refinement and improvement, you will develop faster in terms of structure even if you are already well on your way. You will experience more of the benefits of having good structure and your life will simply become more enjoyable.
What is your preferred method?
Which structure-traps do you get caught in most frequently and what do you usually do to avoid them as they are approaching? Feel free to Leave a comment.