When we get started on creating a better structure at work since we want to make our life smoother and easier, it is easy to think that we have to make big and drastic changes in order to notice a difference and achieve an effect. We think we need to clean out the entire office, structure absolutely everything or get all necessary and latest gadgets. The result of coming at changing our structure from this angle is usually that it appears overwhelming and we give up before we have even started.
But, I who work with this (and only this) every day have time after time seen that it is not in the big attempts to alter your situation, but in the details, where true change lies. We might have taken the right steps according to how we know we should structure our structure, so to say, but still keep falling back into the same traps and tracks over and over again due to the deceivingly simple reason that we are missing one small, yet crucial, detail.
The beauty is that if we only manage not to fall into those detail-traps, we will gain a lot in terms of getting our structure in place and will experience a big difference in our everyday lives compared to before.
Six small details
So, allow me to share six details which are decisive to if your structure holds firm or not.
- How easy it is to be reminded of your individual business- or work-related goals throughout your work-day.
In other words, how quickly and easily are you able to see what goals you are responsible for attaining at the moment? Is it enough for you to just raise your eyes to see them since they are pasted on the wall in front of you? Are they just a click away or do you need to click your way through several files and folders before finding them? If your goals are not vividly present in your work-day (visually or with a natural presence in your mind) it will be difficult for you to use prioritizing-tools such as the classic urgent/important-matrix and my refining-template (which I have written about in a previous edition of Done!).
- How easily accessible your to-do-list is
If you need to look for, skim through, log in or wait for the to-do-list you will soon start writing what you have to do in more easily accessible places. And before you know it you again have your to-do-list in several places even though you had determined to only keep it in one.
- If we take the time to formulate to-do-tasks as concretely and explicit as possible or not
This is an easy one to do sloppily, for example by writing an abbreviation or describe tasks using texts that do not accurately describe what we are going to do since we think that we know what we are referring to anyway. But, we might know what we mean right now, as we are writing the task down. But later, when we are about to do what we need to get done, we will have to think about what we meant by our previous scribbles and abbreviations. We then have to spend time reminding ourselves or even re-read the e‑mail the task was derived from again in order to understand what we actually decided to take action on.
- If we set the due-date randomly or not
If we set a due-date for a to-do-task without it actually being necessary, we might end up with having a “delayed” to-do-list which is highlighted in red in our digital to-do-list too soon and for nothing. If we dare to not set a due-date knowing that we will finish today’s tasks sooner than we think, we will feel and be freer to choose what to do at any given moment.
- If we have prepared storage-spaces (preferably few) for all papers and documents which might end up on our desks
When we do not have an obvious place to put the material we receive and have to keep, we will simply put it wherever there is room, which tends to become piles on our desk.
- Determine …
… when the calendar is full and you do not have time for more meetings and appointments this week, when we make ourselves available for others, when we check our e‑mail, and what projects we will keep active and which we will set on hold.
A small step for you, a big step for your structure
If you make sure to keep the details above under control, you will create true super-structure in your work-day much easier than most people.
You get to enjoy the full effect of having the most recent app, project-tool or a neat and tidy tasks-function in Outlook since you do not get stuck in a small, yet decisive, detail.
Have I forgotten a detail that is crucial to making your structure work? Please share in a comment below.