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27 May

Find your structure-traps and avoid them

Datum: 2015-05-27 11:17

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.

Do this

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.