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14 Nov

Where to start?

Datum: 2012-11-14 11:00

Some­times when I tell peo­ple I am a struk­tör”, I get asked the fol­low­ing question:

OK. Well, you work with this every day, tell me: what should I do? My office is com­plete chaos and I have plen­ty of piles, but I real­ly want to become more struc­tured. How and where do I start?”

This is what I usu­al­ly reply. 

Do this

  1. First you need to deter­mine where you will keep your to-do-tasks. They should be gath­ered in one sin­gle place. The excep­tion is if you have a CRM-sys­tem where you have client-relat­ed tasks. In this case you will need two places. You will be able to live with that, but strive to have only one place. It does not mat­ter if it is dig­i­tal or on paper. 

    Now you need a to-do-task-place (or ‑list) since numer­able things you have to do are most like­ly hid­ing in the piles. These tasks will emerge as you go through the piles and will need a place to go where they will not be forgotten. 

  2. Now emp­ty your mind of any­thing you can think of that you have to do and write down all the tasks in detail in the to-do-list. Define all the tasks as small as you pos­si­bly can so that each and every task will take less than a day to complete. 

    You have now tak­en the first step towards regain­ing con­trol of your life. 

  3. Sup­ply your­self with a box filled with emp­ty hang­ing file fold­ers or get about ten emp­ty binders, a siz­able waste­bas­ket and prefer­ably a scanner.

    Now you have some­where to put any papers you want to keep as reference‑, good-to-have‑, or have-to-keep-mate­r­i­al. Some peo­ple who clean out their spaces only cre­ate new piles since they have not cre­at­ed a bet­ter place than their desk to put things they want to keep. 

  4. Start going through the pile that most appeals to you. If it is a large pile, start going through the first three inch­es (the first decimeter).

    Take the first piece of paper or mate­r­i­al from the top of the pile and ask your­self: Is there a next step I need to take with this?”. If so, cre­ate a new to-do-task and write it on the list. If it con­sti­tutes an entire project, add it to your project overview. 

    If the next step is for some­one else to get back to you with a reply or a deliv­ery, make note of this where you keep track of what you are wait­ing for from others.

  5. Then ask your­self if you real­ly need to keep it. If so, save it in one of the hang­ing file fold­ers or in a binder. Or, if pos­si­ble, scan the doc­u­ment, save a dig­i­tal copy and then throw away the original. 

  6. Keep doing this until you have processed all the piles. 

There are many oth­er steps you can take to become more struc­tured in your every­day life, but this is a good start. 

Small changes give great results

The peo­ple I have helped become more struc­tured in their work often say that they get less stressed when they expe­ri­ence that they know what they need to do and where they have all their mate­ri­als. Most peo­ple who improve on their struc­ture feel less tired after the work­day is over and feel more joy­ful and at ease in their actu­al work. 

What is your way?

When your nor­mal­ly more or less struc­tured office turns into may­hem, what is your way of regain­ing con­trol and get­ting back on track? Write a com­ment to share your thoughts.