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16 Mar

Play office and create a smoother workday!


Datum: 2011-03-16 15:08

When you notice that some­thing has been neglect­ed, when you have been unsuc­cess­ful in com­plet­ing a task as planned, when piles have formed on your desk again, even though you did not want them to, when you are behind sched­ule again in spite of that you worked your­self up to date last Sun­day, I have a sug­ges­tion on what you can do: 

Play office.

When you were a child, per­haps you had a box of toys with all items nec­es­sary for play­ing the lit­tle post office” or going shopping”.

With those toys, you bought and sold goods, received change from cus­tomers, stamped things, wrote receipts and so on. You prac­ticed work­ing in an office and inter­act­ing with cus­tomers, col­leagues and suppliers. 

Actu­al­ly, this wasn’t such a bad idea. You played your way to a way of work­ing (“a game”) that real­ly worked. If some­thing didn’t work as well as it could, you used your rich imag­i­na­tion to find a solu­tion quick­ly. You can do the same thing today, as an adult. 

If you notice that some­thing in your work­day fails you, you might need to step out of your reg­u­lar con­text (out of your office, away from your desk) in order to view how you work from an out­side-per­spec­tive. You will get per­spec­tive on things and see clear­er what isn’t work­ing, what is miss­ing and what you need to attend to the most.

Do this

  1. Get to an emp­ty white­board or get your­self a sim­ple, emp­ty sheet of paper, land­scape orientated.
  2. Make a sketch of your desk and draw the tools you have avail­able. They may be an inbox, a ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al-sys­tem, an e‑mailbox, a to-do-list, well, in short, all the things I talk about in the Done!-tips on structure. 
  3. Think through what types of mate­ri­als are sent to you, for instance 
    • Sup­pli­er invoices
    • Orders
    • Invi­ta­tions
    • Infor­ma­tion
    • Ideas
    • Col­leagues ask­ing for things
  4. Pre­tend that it is a nor­mal day at work, any day at all, and some­thing shows up:
    An e‑mail with an inquiry or request from a client
    The invoice of the deliv­ery you received last week
    A phone call from a col­league who is away on a business-trip
    A bril­liant idea regard­ing a new ser­vice which will beat the competition

  5. Decide on what to do with it. 
  6. Draw an arrow from where it comes in (to the e‑mail inbox for exam­ple) to where you will put it or what you will do with it (for instance, putting it on the to-do-list).
    Be careful,

    • You are not allowed to put the paper/​invoice/​e‑mail in a pile
    • You are not allowed to just read the e‑mail and then leave it unat­tend­ed to in the inbox
    • You are not allowed to let go of the phone call with­out tak­ing action on the con­tent of the con­ver­sa­tion, with­out decid­ing on what the next, con­crete step you can do in one go, is
  7. Either it is trash, or it may be ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al”, or it con­sists of need it lat­er, but not now”-information, or it is a two-minute-task, or a to-do-task, or a some­time/­maybe- idea, or a project, or some­thing you are wait­ing for some­one else to get back to you with. 
  8. It will qual­i­fy into one of these cat­e­gories and now you need to have one and only one place pre­pared to put it in, and a sin­gle method for putting it there, so that it is easy for you to do so.
  9. Notice the kind of sit­u­a­tions when it is not clear where you should put the mate­r­i­al. These are crit­i­cal points in real­i­ty as well, and this is where you put away the mate­r­i­al in that smart” place which you then for­get where it was. If you notice your­self being hes­i­tant and feel the ten­den­cy to reach for the pile, it is a clear indi­ca­tion that you are lack­ing struc­tur­al tools. 
  10. If the process is quick and easy, it’s all good. If you notice some­thing not being opti­mal, decide what you need to buy, cre­ate or fix in order for your work­day-process to pro­ceed as smooth­ly as possible. 

More time for what is important

If you refine your work­day-process­es so that they all run smooth­ly, you will have more ener­gy and time over for what is more impor­tant in your busi­ness, in your work and for you per­son­al­ly. You will be less frus­trat­ed, less stressed and instead feel more ener­getic in your every­day life. 

By play­ing office you will clear­ly see what com­po­nents you are miss­ing in your struc­ture-sys­tem. This will make it pos­si­ble for you to quick­ly get to it and get your­self the tools you are lack­ing, so that clients or col­leagues will not be neglect­ed again.

How do you do it? 

What is your way of improv­ing your per­son­al process­es so that you work smoother and smoother?

Please leave a com­ment below.

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