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20 Jun

Good structure can extend your life span

Datum: 2017-06-20 19:40

The most com­mon pos­i­tive effect of hav­ing improved their struc­ture men­tioned by my clients is that they now, after hav­ing refined their struc­ture, feel as if they are in charge of their work and work­days to a greater extent.

I am always glad to hear of the pos­i­tive changes they have expe­ri­enced, because I have been in their shoes too. One of the rea­sons why I am so hap­py about my struc­ture is that it nev­er makes me feel as if I am a vic­tim of cir­cum­stances. On the con­trary, it helps me feel that I have a say in how things turn out”, and the times things do not unfold as I would have want­ed them to, I can take respon­si­bil­i­ty for what hap­pened and try again.

A healthy dose of control
And as it so hap­pens, research now shows that the sense of con­trol struc­ture brings could poten­tial­ly give you a longer life. In a recent­ly pub­lished study, the researchers Erik Gon­za­lez-Mulé and Bethany Cock­burn found that for the peo­ple who expe­ri­ence hav­ing lit­tle to no influ­ence over their work, the ones with a demand­ing job have a 15,4% increased risk of dying” com­pared to those whose jobs are not as demanding.

Anoth­er fas­ci­nat­ing dis­cov­ery was that the peo­ple who felt in con­trol of their demand­ing job had a 34% low­er risk of dying” as opposed to those with a non-demand­ing job.

This must mean that the sense of being in con­trol of your work, mean­ing feel­ing on top of things”, appar­ent­ly mat­ters a great deal — not just ran­dom­ly through­out the work­day, but over time and for life in general.

Do this
If you want to use struc­ture to increase the sense of being the mas­ter of your work, time and life, these four actions are usu­al­ly very effec­tive and I reg­u­lar­ly rec­om­mend them to clients — per­haps you will find them help­ful as well.

  • Emp­ty your mind” and cre­ate an overview of all the more exten­sive tasks and projects you are respon­si­ble for. It can be your main areas of respon­si­bil­i­ty as well as more tem­po­rary projects — if you need to work with it over time, it belongs on this list. This overview will help you stay on track with all the things you are respon­si­ble for keep­ing in motion and doing.

  • Make it clear to your­self what goals you have to attain for the next while to come, and which should there­fore be what you pri­or­i­tize by. If it is easy to see what tasks con­tribute to attain­ing these goals and there­fore are impor­tant, you do not have to pri­or­i­tize by urgency. You will deter­mine what to say yes” and no” to with greater accu­ra­cy and con­fi­dence — regard­less how urgent it seems, because you now know what tru­ly matters.

  • Decide how you will make your­self unavail­able when you need to focus. Get a pair of head­phones and find the sounds or music that shuts out back­ground noise effi­cient­ly when you need to get work done. Dis­cuss with your col­leagues how you quick­ly, eas­i­ly and prefer­ably word­less­ly com­mu­ni­cate to one anoth­er that you want to work with­out being inter­rupt­ed when­ev­er this is need­ed. Think of a place where you can go when you real­ly need to work with­out being dis­tract­ed for a while. Doing so means tak­ing the reins and tak­ing charge of your imme­di­ate environment.

  • Have few (prefer­ably just one) places where you gath­er all the things you have to do in terms of small tasks (call, write, email et c). When you look in this one loca­tion and see that there is noth­ing else you should be doing right now oth­er than what you are cur­rent­ly work­ing on, you will feel a great sense of relief since you are obvi­ous­ly on top of things”.

A step towards a longer life
If you refine your struc­ture so that you get at least a lit­tle more con­trol of what you do and what your day looks like, it will have a pos­i­tive effect on your well­be­ing, and if we are to draw a some­what dras­tic con­clu­sion from the research I just men­tioned, your chances of liv­ing a longer life increase.

Per­haps that is stretch­ing it a lit­tle, but let us at least estab­lish that hav­ing bet­ter struc­ture will not hurt us, but do some good — although the extent of its effect might be debatable.

What is your method?
What changes have you imple­ment­ed that made you feel in con­trol” of things to a greater extent than before the change? All ideas are wel­come — leave yours in a com­ment below.