You know there is no school today, yet the “school zone” sign is blinking indicating the reduced speed limit of only twenty miles per hour. What do you do? Do you slow down because the law says when the light is blinking the rules are enforced? Do you ignore the sign because you know the school is closed today?
Understanding the decision you make in this situation will help you begin to understand how you govern yourself, and understanding how you govern yourself is the key to developing a system that works for you. Do you brake for the rules, or do you break the rules?
What do I mean by personal governance? Let me answer that by asking a few questions.
Do you have a goal to clear your inbox before the end of every day? Do you proactively set a plan for your day before it starts, or do you roll with the day reacting to the things that come up? What do you wish was different about your productivity and personal infrastructure? Do you wish you were able to respond to voicemails in a more timely manner? Do you wish you were able to read some personal development books this year? What drives you? Chances are you have several things you wished you were doing in the workplace, and chances are these things slip through your fingers month after month and year after year.
The results you see in the workplace are a result of the “rules” you have in place for how you do things. You do things this way, and you do not do things that way; these are your rules. Consider the formula a simple relationship between cause and effect – the choosing of the correct stimuli and the creation of a personal environment which brings about the result you seek.
People are different, therefore solutions are different. Observe everything. Question everything. Seek first to understand yourself. There are no 10 steps to the perfect anything. You must understand how you work.
Start here: What are you trying to accomplish? A better relationship with your email? Ask yourself if you are happy with the relationship you have with email, just as an example. Well, the results you are seeing are a result of the personal governance you are employing — your rules. Observe it. Understand it. Change it. If you are able to get through your emails more effectively by creating folders, then create folders. If folders take too long and you like to leave them as unread until you get to them, then do that. The only requirement here is that you stay determined to create a system that works for you.
Do you find that you’re taking work home with you (mentally, physically, or both)? If this is not something you want to do any longer, then look at what you are doing now. Do not make excuses, find a way to change your personal infrastructure, or governance, and find a better way to do it.
We tend to create rules for ourselves that are silly, ineffective, or just plain stupid — rules like needing to slow down for a school sign on a day when there is no school. Many of the rules we create for ourselves express themselves as habits.
Additionally, we stopped questioning, stopped observing, and stopped challenging many of the rules we use to govern ourselves years ago. Do not allow your desire for improvement and change to rot due to neglect and inattention. Dust off these desires for improvement by challenging the rules which operate you. Become painfully aware of your tendencies and they will change with attention and action. Break your rules to better yourself.