How we structure our lives and workdays is a constant process that requires continuous refinement. If you ever were to feel discouraged due to not having found the perfect structure yet, you can let that thought go.
For you who prefer listening to reading, this post is also available as an episode of the “Done!” podcast:
Our situation and circumstances continually changes, in one way or another. There are technology advances, the organization we work is is re-arranged somehow, we start a new job, and so on. Conditions change, and with them, our need to create new habits, routines and structure.
In a while
The beauty of these more prominent changes of circumstance is that they usually do not happen over night, but we can often sense or see them coming a while before they do. Something is scheduled for the first day of the new year, we are launching that new thing in September, or we start the new employment on October 1st. This gives us time to prepare — structurally as well.
When the new situation has gone into effect and we are in the middle of it, we most likely will not be very prone to prioritize structural changes.
This is why it is a good idea to look ahead once in a while and scan the horizon for upcoming changes and the structural challenges what might accompany them which you are not currently dealing with. And right now might be as good a time as any to look ahead.
- Take a moment to think about the following: Have you just started something new? Gotten new responsibilities? Set a date for the launch of something? Gotten a notice regarding your organization being re-structured? Been handed a new routine in a new system? Changed offices? Or can you see some other change on its way?
- Now think about what effects this new change will have on:
- your inflow of emails — Will it increase and hence make you need more time to process emails?
- your flow of papers — Could you try to get as much of these materials in a digital format as possible? Do you need to get yourself a designated spot for where all papers are placed the moment you get them, instead of them piling up all over your office (and perhaps staying in piles instead of being processed)?
- the number of meetings you attend — Will they increase in number and time required, and hence do you have to pre-schedule a number of hours completely free from meetings and disturbances every week so that you can finish all you need to do during the week, and not have to work over-time or on weekends?
- the number of days your travel every month — Do you need to change something in order make certain tasks which you currently need to be in the office to complete, more mobile and flexible so that you can bring them with you?
- the amount of tasks — Do you need to delegate a number of tasks to a colleague in order to decrease your workload to a more reasonable level?
- your immediate surroundings — Will you no longer have a door to close and hence need to find another way to be left alone and undisturbed when you need and want some privacy?
- I am counting on you to consider the upcoming change as a kind of project, and that you therefore have added it to your overview of more extensive tasks and projects. If not — do so now.
- Since you most likely won’t be able to make all the changes you need to make in your structure at once, define what you will do as a first step (or first steps) and add it as a new task on your to-do-list. (My first step right now is to decide whento perform a new routine at a designated time every day.)
Done before the storm hits
If you begin refining your structure before you need to rely on it, now when you might have more time and before the change happens, you will find it easier to rely on that good, supporting structure that is worth its weight in gold when things get moving and you find yourself in the midst of it all. Instead of getting the familiar feeling of ”it’s just too much now and it’s getting worse”, you can thank your former self for having enough foresight to prevent the present from overwhelming you.
What is your way?
How do you prevent things from getting out of hand by addressing changes you need to make in your structure early on? Tell me!
(By the way, it is smart to get things done well before deadline. I wrote about six ways to succeed with that.
There is more where this came from
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.