I am fully aware that not all people are as devoted to the concept of ”structure” as I am.
Once in a while I meet people who tell me that they find it difficult to establish a relationship to the word structure, and define what it means to them.
These people are often creative in some way; they are either artists, graphical designers, musicians or belong to some other category of creative people.
Some say they fear that being more structured would impede their creativity. Others believe that being increasingly structured would require that they become less of what they are and place less emphasis on features in their personality they like.
Another group of people who have difficulties with the concept are the overachieving competitive people who claim being structured would demand too much time spent administrating.
They do not believe they have “time for structure”.
On the contrary
As I see it, structure will have the opposite effect. By being more structured in our daily lives, we will have more time, energy and even physical space to be ourselves more, to create more, to sell more, or do whatever it is we want to do.
And in order to feel comfortable working with more structured methods, we need to adapt the concept and the methods to fit our particular personality and preferences.
We need to personalize it since if we feel that we need to be less of what and who we are, and make ourselves and our lives fit into a small frame and framework where we are required to be just like everybody else, we will resist being “structured” best we can.
And I would to the same.
So, in this week’s edition of Done! I want to present you with a few ideas of what you can adapt in your structured work-methods to make them comply with your personality, if you tend to feel reluctance when confronted with the concept of structure.
- If you have a creative personality
Make sure you always have structure-tools and materials you enjoy using. These could for instance be:
- A notepad with the particular quality of paper you get inspired by writing on
- A pen you find absolutely perfect; the right weight, how it balances in your hand, the ink-color you prefer, the right thickness and so on
- A color or nuance you like on the backdrop in the software you use to keep your to-do-list and project-overview
- An external hard drive for back-up material in a design which coincides with the rest of your office, so that you feel comfortable having it on your desk where it is easily available
- A hanging-file cabinet which due to the great sound it makes when you pull out a drawer is a pleasure to open and close every time you need something
If you are a epicurean (a person oriented by pleasure)
When you need to do something you find boring, tedious or repetitious that concerns structure and order;
- Listen to music you love
- Eat something incredibly good while doing it
- Sit comfortably (for instance outside with the computer on your lap, huddled on the couch amongst soft pillows, or in a coffee-shop where they serve great coffee)
- Only do a little at a time and reward yourself generously for the few minutes you managed to keep it in there
If you are a competitive type of person:
- Make the structured work into a game, a competition or a sport
- Set up small, clearly defined challenges you need to complete, after which you reward yourself
- Measure what you accomplish (how many, how fast, how big, and so on) and make it visual using a diagram
- Compare with the results from yesterday and see how you make gradual improvements
- Compete with a colleague and agree on a price for whoever wins. Or, why not take it a step further and arrange a structure-tournament where everyone at the office participates and select the Master of Structure in your department at the end of the year!
Get more of who and what you are
If you arrange your working-methods in a structured but personal way, you will soon get to experience the benefits of being more structured.
You will finish more things ahead of deadline rather than in the eleventh hour. You will to a greater extent be able to relax in what you are doing since you are certain there are no un-finished tasks you need to attend to, nothing you need to do instead of what you are doing right now.
You will be able to spend more time doing what you really want to do since you now spend less time looking for things, re-doing something you have already done or “putting out fires” you could have avoided with a bit of foresight and better structure.
What is your way?
How did you overcome your reluctance towards structure? Feel free to leave a comment to let me know.