Recently, I have pondered the structural aspect that deals with physical structure.
Questions such as “Where is the best place for this particular tool?”, “How can I simplify the performance of this task by adjusting something in the physical?” and “How do I shape my physical work environment so that I am least distracted?”, have been on my mind and I have been experimenting with them.
The small that makes big consequences
Sure, apps, syncs, and digital solutions are all great, but we are also greatly affected by how the physical space in our day-to-day work is.
For me, it’s not just about the big solutions about what kind of office environment we should have — landscape or cell office, for example. What affects me just as much are the small details that, at first glance, may seem to be mere trivialities not worth putting energy into.
It may be that I constantly have to look in one place too many for the right kind of tape, or that I always accidentally knock into something when I’m trying to get out something else, or that something is constantly in the way on the floor, or that I keep putting off doing something because what I need to carry then is so ungainly (I hate lugging).
Hanging up is great, but hanging straight is greater
Let me give you an example, certainly from my home domain, but still an analogy for a corresponding situation at work.
Above my wood working bench, I have my tools hanging on the wall. I have placed them according to how often I use them. Those tools I use most frequently hang right in front of me where I usually stand so I have them close and easily accessible. The less I use a tool, the further away from me it hangs on the wall.
Right in front, precisely in my line of sight when I look up, an angled hook with an integrated water level hangs. I use it a lot. When I was hanging it up, I just hung it on a screw in the wall.
But the tool wasn’t symmetrical, which made it hang at an angle. It bothered me. You may think this is a petity, but it’s not. Every time I looked up to think, I would see the slanted tool, think about it hanging slanted, and be distracted. I lost focus on what I was doing for the moment and it took me, though a short one, a moment to get back on track. I lost woodworking time for nothing.
Also, when I wanted to use the larger angled hook hanging next to it, the slanted angled hook was in the way so I would accidentally knock it and it would start swinging and then sometimes fall. Irritating.
The solution was, of course, simple as these physical solutions often are. I drove in a discreet peg that the angled hook “leans against”, so it now hangs straight. Less distraction, less irritation, more woodworking time.
And what does this correlate to for you?
If you want, also think about what seemingly trivial things distract and irritate you at work on a day-to-day basis. What could you change in the physical that quickly and easily solves the problem?
(Yes, it is definitely the small, small details that do it.)
Want regular tips on how to enhance structure at work?
If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.