Maintaining a Structure

Image credit: Marlene Leppänen (Pexels)

Earlier this week, I wrote an article about The Power of Structure. I have been surging with so many things I want to do. It was exciting to have so many ideas but it was also kind of like being a squirrel dropped into a field of acorns. I just kept going from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next….

I chose to break down the things I want to do into four basic pillars. These pillars are the main areas of focus for each working day. I run a business, which takes up the majority of my time and focus. I also have a life, which takes up most of the rest. It’s important for me to schedule time for exercise, meditation, life admin and taking care of myself. Without allowing time for these things, I go non-stop in my business and soon start to suffer.

There are other things that lie somewhere in between, combining aspects of working and living. I recently launched a podcast, which requires time for booking, recording, planning and promoting. And I want to write more — articles like this, but also e-books and fiction. Neither of these is directly about my business but they are related to honing my craft and my message.

I could probably come up with any number of additional areas of focus. Somehow four pillars felt right, like the cornerstones of a building. So, each day I set about deciding how many hours to allocate to each pillar. Well…the power of structure is that it’s just a structure! It’s a bit like saying, “The map is not the territory.”

My first couple of days using this structure were great. And then things went a bit off-track. I wasn’t necessarily all over the place but I did find it hard to stay within the lines that I had set for myself. I allocated significant chunks of time for each pillar each day, which was good. However, I was not as good at managing how those chunks were sub-divided.

For instance, I may have allotted 2 hours one day to podcasting but that might end up being sub-divided into 2 x 30-minute slots, for initial booking discussions at different times, and another hour somewhere else in the day. Sometimes, I felt like a squirrel again. I also found that scheduling writing at pre-determined times might not actually correspond with when I’m most creative or focused.

What I’ve learned so far is to be more and less strict with my overall structure. By more structure, I am learning to limit how much I subdivide my blocks for each pillar. That may mean limiting time for podcast booking discussions to pre-determined 2-hour slots. And less structure may mean having a weekly goal for writing and being looser with when I use that structure.

I should say also that a fifth pillar has emerged, a bit of a wildcard. It’s just play and spontaneity and underscores that the map is not the territory and the underlying structure is not the building. A structure is only as good as the end results it serves.