Structure Builds Confidence
Remember the first day of first grade? Scary time! It felt very
strange to be in a new school room with some friends but mostly new kids and
a teacher you had met just that day. It probably didn’t take long to
realize that things would be ok though.
What did the teacher do to make us feel comfortable? She started by
giving each day a structure so that we knew when our group would be
reading, when we had our milk and cookies, when it was music time and when
it was recess. Knowing what to expect each day, made us feel confident
Just as that structure helped for first grade, a structure in our work
life can help us today. What kind of structure do you have in your
work or job search to make you feel confident and comfortable? Have you
made a schedule that has blocks of time allotted to your activities?
Most people do use a schedule to keep track of appointments with others.
How about using it to keep track of appointments with yourself?
Tom was searching for a new job. When I asked him what he did each
day, he told me the major portion of his day was spent applying for jobs
on line. Tom said he also made calls to his network and followed up on
jobs he had applied for.
He identified all the tasks he needed to do but at the end of the day
he had the feeling he had not accomplished much.
Frequently Tom got caught up in the online application and/or research
process and never got to making calls or follow up. Does that happen
With a daily schedule Tom blocked out times to do the different
activities necessary to complete his job search tasks. His schedule ended at
3pm so he had time to workout or do something for himself.
Now he could look at his schedule at the end of the day to see what he
had accomplished. In addition he could start the day knowing exactly
what he was going to be doing. Of course it takes commitment to stick
to the schedule rigorously.
Just like the first grade structure this new job search structure made
Tom feel in control and confident. Sure he still needed to find work
and being out of a job was scary but now that he was really focused on
the job search he had confidence he would find something.
Mary became a client because her practice was not growing. She got
some referrals but she never had time to market her practice. She said
she was just too busy doing the work.
The amount of time Mary decided she needed to spend on marketing was
relatively small because she had a good referral base – maybe 3 or 4
hours a week at most. Sometimes the marketing activity was a breakfast or
lunch with a referral source; other times it was a couple of phone
calls to prospective or former clients. She sometimes used the time to
work on writing an article for a publication.
What helped Mary most was to see that she could complete her work if
she stuck to the schedule. Mary chose marketing activities that were fun
for her so that she looked forward to them as a nice break from her
I use this method myself. I make my schedule on Monday morning from my
active project list. (My client appointments are already on my
calendar.) Some of my clients choose to make their schedule on Friday before
they leave for the weekend. A few have decided that it is an activity
they can do late Sunday afternoon. Choose a time that works for you and
then create your schedule and stick to it. Another benefit to doing
this is that you’ll begin to schedule outside or client appointments to
allow you to have blocks of time for your desk or computer work.
1. Take a few minutes at the end of the day today to decide what you
must do tomorrow. Block out the time to complete the work on your
calendar. See how it works for you? If you feel it supported you, move on
2. Decide on a day at the end or beginning of the week to write a
schedule for the whole week. Be sure to look two or three weeks out to know
exactly what is coming up so you do the necessary work.
3. Make a list of fun activities you have wanted to do regularly but
have never had the time. Perhaps it is working out, going for a walk,
reading a book, or meditating. Fit one or two into your schedule as a
reward for yourself. Commit to working the schedule.
4. Systems such as scheduling time are important to every business.
What other systems are necessary for your business? Here is a top ten
list I wrote on that topic http://www.asparker.com/ppts0507.html