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29 Feb

Structure when you most need it

Datum: 2012-02-29 11:00

In most people’s work, the inten­si­ty and work­load varies. Some­times there is less to do, and some­times the tem­po accel­er­ates to an almost unbear­able lev­el where we can bare­ly keep up. 

When there is a lot going on around us, it may be tempt­ing to com­pro­mise in terms of our struc­tured work-meth­ods and just let every­thing go since there are so many things that need our imme­di­ate attention. 

Sure, you could say that struc­ture ini­tial­ly demands more mar­gin­al effort. It is true that it takes less time not to write down a task you real­ize you need to do, than writ­ing it down. And it may appear eas­i­er to leave e‑mails unat­tend­ed to in our inbox rather than mov­ing them to a fold­er from which we eas­i­ly can retrieve them later. 

But looks can be deceiving. 

If we give our struc­tur­al habits slack when we need them the most, we do our­selves a dis­ser­vice. When the pace is at its high­est, we use our struc­tur­al tools the least, although this is when we need them the most. 

It’s you ver­sus chaos

Look at it as a tug-of-war. If you prac­tice immense­ly before the com­pe­ti­tion and work hard to adjust and fine-tune your tech­nique for months in advance, but then let go of the rope as soon as you feel the oppos­ing team tug­ging at the oth­er end, the bat­tle is lost before it even began. 

Do the oppo­site. When the oppo­nent is pulling so hard that you feel tempt­ed to let go, give him a run for his mon­ey and pull even hard­er at your end. 
Try a lit­tle hard­er. Make that extra effort. Do not give in, but spend those extra three sec­onds here and an extra ten sec­onds there, do that extra step in that par­tic­u­lar task and make that extra nota­tion after hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion, and by doing so, you do what is required to keep chaos at bay. 

Indeed, chaos is said to stim­u­late cre­ativ­i­ty, but in your par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion it is more about mak­ing dead­lines and deal­ing with numer­ous com­mit­ments simul­ta­ne­ous­ly and as smooth as pos­si­ble. At times like these, few things are bet­ter than hav­ing good structure. 

Do this

  1. Take a moment to think about which struc­tur­al rou­tines are essen­tial for your work to run smooth­ly. These may for instance con­cern mak­ing to-do-tasks out of the e‑mails you would pre­fer not to act on imme­di­ate­ly, rather than just tag­ging them as unread again. It may be deal­ing with every­thing in your phys­i­cal inbox on a dai­ly basis, so that no pile con­tain­ing papers sym­bol­iz­ing unde­fined tasks which you will soon be behind on if not dealt with, forms. It could also be to instant­ly write down any­thing you come to think of since you will oth­er­wise eas­i­ly for­get it, or it could be some­thing dif­fer­ent entirely.
  2. Choose one struc­tur­al rou­tine that you will make no com­pro­mis­es with, regard­less the circumstances.
  3. If you feel it is appro­pri­ate, write it on a note and paste it on your com­put­er screen or some­where else where you can­not help to see it. Phrase it some­where along the lines of, for instance, What I can do now, I will do now” or I will save the e‑mails I wish to keep in sub­fold­ers in my inbox”. Nat­u­ral­ly, the sub­ject mat­ter might be some­thing com­plete­ly different.
  4. The next time you have a real­ly intense peri­od at work, real­ly have a go at it, do your very best to pull through even though there is resis­tance, and the sat­is­fac­tion of com­ple­tion and accom­plish­ment will be even greater.

Also: go to bed on time and make sure you get enough sleep. You will need it to think straight and with clear-mind­ed perspectives. 

You will har­vest the fruits of your efforts

If you uti­lize the habits of struc­ture you have acquired dur­ing calm con­di­tions when the going gets rough, you will sim­ply be able to han­dle the pres­sure in a lighter spirit. 

You will sleep bet­ter at night since you in the late after-noon see that all the items on the to-do-list have been checked off and since you after gain­ing the habit of writ­ing down absolute­ly every­thing you need to get done, know for a fact that you haven’t missed some­thing impor­tant. You will do more of the right things at the right time as a result of keep­ing metic­u­lous notes on the progress of your projects so that you eas­i­ly can keep track of what you have promised to who and when you said it would be done. The fruits of your labor, the actu­al result of your effort, will be bet­ter since less gets unin­ten­tion­al­ly neglect­ed and more of your clients or col­leagues get the infor­ma­tion they need, when they need it. 

What is your way?

What are the vital struc­tur­al habits which you will nev­er com­pro­mise? Leave a com­ment to let oth­ers know!