Since I spend my days thinking and speaking about structure, I have noticed that a few themes are more recurring in the whole subject of structure than others.
They are themes which seem to permeate the working methods of those who most successfully keep track of things and who by doing so have more time to do other things.
One of these themes is scarcity.
In lack of a better expression, by “scarcity” I mean that there is a small amount of something rather than too much of it.
It is not about living a minimalistic or scanty lifestyle with nothing but empty spaces, but rather that having less of one thing makes it possible to have something else in abundance.
Sometimes you need to be able to spread yourself and your papers out freely in order to work on the task you are focusing on at the moment. When doing so, you need to have less of other material which does not concern your particular task, on your desk. Why? Because abundance of everything only leads to chaos.
So whenever you feel that “it is just too much” – think “less”.
Less of what?
So what can and should we then have less of in order to make our lives easier?
Here are some ideas:
- Meetings – If you tend to spend your days in meetings and your nights catching up with all the work you should have gotten done during the day, think about which meetings you could without further repercussions cancel, which meetings that do not need your presence, which you could postpone for a month, and which are work-meetings that might as well be replaced by that each and everyone does their part of the project or task and then check in with everyone else.
- Places – If you spend too much time looking for documents and papers you put away at some point, think about which of the several places you store information in that you could get rid of in order to combine the places into a single location. Do you really need to have both magazine file holders, inboxes, piles and binders?
If you also tend to make note of what you have to do in several places, try to figure out what could serve as the best single location to keep all your to-do-tasks in.
- Ways of communicating – If you communicate in many different ways in your project-group, such as by e‑mailing, online chatting, using Skype, calling each other, have meetings, discuss while having coffee, brainstorming when you travel together, communicate through your project-tool, and so on, and you feel that it is difficult to get your heads around all the different thoughts and ideas, try determining what your primary means of communication should be.
Direct all conversations, decisions and ideas which emerge in other forums than the primary ones, into your chosen means of communication, and your documentation and managing of the project will run a whole lot smoother.
- Different versions of processes – If you tend to give service to different clients in different ways so that each relationship with a customer gets its own, unique solutions, try giving more clients similar treatments. Make an active decision on how you want the process of supplying service X to be from start to finish, and create outlines and checklists which will aid you in working faster and with less effort.
- Piles and things on your desk – If your desk is cluttered with so much irrelevant stuff that you get distracted from what you are working on every time you look up from your work, make an effort to at least get rid of one pile.
Set aside an hour this afternoon to go through the pile, throw away what you can, do the to-do-tasks which might emerge from you processing the pile and save what you might actually need later on (but make sure not to just put it “at the top” of another pile).
Less gives your more focus
If you think “less” and act accordingly, you will find it easier to focus on the right thing at the right time. You will finish a greater amount of your tasks in less time and find the material you are looking for faster.
Perhaps it is just me, but the empty space, the empty inbox and having the day free from meetings reduces my stress significantly. Wouldn’t you agree?
What have you done?
What have you made sure to have less of than you previously had? And what effect has that had on your daily life? Enlighten us! Leave a comment!