Today is a new day. This year is not like the last. Even if time sometimes appear to be an illusion, we can regard this turn of the year as a transition into something new - a new chapter, that begins with a new, white page.
A new year is an excellent time to make changes. Every new day also constitutes a fresh opportunity to make a change, but personally I always experience the new year as ”particularly new” since I am reminding of that it is a new year every time I write ”2017” instead of ”2016”.
And in the first part to the year, we have a great window of opportunity to make this year a little different than the last, slightly better hopefully, and make changes when it comes to our structure as well.
Not really a blank page, though …
We might think of the new years as a ”clean slate”, but I am guessing that your agenda has already been filled with quite a number of appointments for the next few months. The space for improvements is in actually hardly greater than it was before the turn of the year. Let us therefore assume a reasonable level of ambition rather than change everything we wish to improve at once, and only choose one thing to aim your ambition to improve on with regards to structure in the next while ahead.
If you should want to;
- Take a moment to recollect the things that have not been quite to your liking during the past year. Did your working methods not always measure up? Did you have too much of something? Not enough of something else? Too many emails? Too much to do? Too many projects active simultaneously? Not enough time alone? Not enough inspiration and new influences? Perhaps not enough new challenges that inspired you? Too many distracting papers and piles on your desk? Too many reminders from others regarding all kinds of details, tasks and projects?
- Now choose only one thing that you wish to improve upon. If you are not sure what to choose, pick the first thing that springs to mind, even if it might not appear to be the most optimal aspect you might alter and adjust.
- Formulate the improvement you wish to make in terms of something you want to succeed with regularly. It might for instance be:
- Working uninterrupted for an hour every day.
- Process the email inbox until it is completely empty every Friday.
- Trying something new or doing something in a new way some time every month.
- Attending only three meetings or less every day.
- Leave an empty desk every afternoon.
- Ask for help with something at least once a day.
- Or, something else that is important to you and relevant to your work.
- In order to establish the new habit that will make your year better than the last, try the comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s method. He told another comedian a few years ago that he writes every day. Since he sometimes feels reluctant to, he motivates himself to do it anyway by crossing off a day in a calendar after having done his daily writing. After a streak of a few days he can by glancing at his calendar see clearly that he has successfully written in spite of the initial reluctance. The longer this streak or chain of success becomes, the more motivated he gets to write yet another day, since it becomes harder to justify breaking such a beautiful and long streak of small victories. Jerry Seinfeld crosses off days on an ordinary wall-calendar. You can either do the same, or you could write an entry saying ”Did it!” in your digital calendar every day after having completed whatever it is you want to do.
Or, do as I and use an establishing-habits-app in your smartphone, such as Strides (iOS) or Habit Streak (Android).
- As you continuously repeat what you are not yet used to over and over again, it will eventually turn into a habit, and your structure will improve in terms of whatever function the new habit has. If you feel up to refining and improving more habits, choose another one and repeat the process.
Slowly but surely
If you choose one thing you want to focus on improving this year, the chances increase that you will be successful since you are keeping your ambition at a reasonable and realistic level. You soberly take the actual time and energy you have at your disposal into account, and you are hence more likely to succeed. The risk that you fall off the wagon in a while from now due to not taking a realistic approach decreases, and you will get to celebrate the pleasant little victory of establishing a habit that will support and aid you in your work every day.
What do you wish to improve?
Which habit or aspect of your structure do you primarily wish to improve or refine throughout this year? Let me and other readers know in a comment.