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20 Oct

Solve tomorrow’s problems with structure today

Datum: 2022-10-20 08:00
Two crossing railway tracks in the evening sunlight.

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.

Do this

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Young woman with blue hair wears black, large headphones and looks at the horizon.

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.

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