What is structure? I like to think of structure as an organized way to hold something. We have structures all around us. Our jobs and our relationships create structures for us. In fact, anything we are accountable to will create a structure.
Interestingly though, in working with entrepreneurs there is often confusion about the need for structure to allow for flexibility. What???? This doesn’t seem to make sense! The battle cry of many who work for themselves is that they do so to have flexibility, so why would they want a structure?
Structures hold space to establish routines, rituals and habits. The important thing to remember about structure is when you are beginning something, it is best to over-structure until you have integrated new routines or habits. Once the routines or habits are established, you can ease up on the structure and get the flexibility in life that you are looking for.
So, for example: if you are an entrepreneur, it is a good practice to establish a structure for your day. Within that structure, establish your personal/professional boundaries, and the routine of your day: emails/phone calls, business development, customer care, etc. Within those routines, what habits will you create that will support your routine? I have a habit of turning my cell phone on silent – it helps me stay focused on my routine instead of responding to emails/phone calls.
If you are incorporating change in your life, it is a good practice to put a structure around the change you want to see happen. A year ago, I decided to exercise every day in the morning. So my structure is:
- 6-7 Read/Coffee
- 7-8:30 Workout
- 8:30-9:30 Shower/Breakfast
Routines I established to support this structure:
- I wake up before I try to work out! (Read/Coffee time)
- I put my workout bag in my bathroom the night before
- I put a water bottle in the fridge the night before.
I have been doing this for over a year now so it has become integrated to the level that even if I cannot follow the morning structure, I am working out every day — somewhere in my day.
When you create a routine, ritual or habit you establish the ability to perform at a level where you don’t have to waste energy having to ‘think’ about it anymore. The more you are able to put everyday activities into automation through the use of routines, rituals or habits, the more you are leveraging your creative energy for the things that really matter to you.
In the process, you also are much more efficient with your time, therefore ending up with more time to be flexible in!