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

and comfortable.

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

to you?

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

legal work.

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.

Take Action

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

to #2.

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


Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys’ Coach) and a Career Changers’ Coach as well as publisher of "Parker’s Points", an email tip list and "Road to Success", an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website and receive a free values assessment. Work becomes more meaningful and enjoyable when you work from your values. Alvah Parker began her career as a high school chemistry teacher. She later ...

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