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When Doing It Right is All Wrong: The Importance of Finding Your Own Way to Work

By Jamie Ridler • May 4th, 2010 • Category: Strategy & Planning, Thinkering

When Doing It Right is All Wrong

The Importance of Finding Your Own Way to Work

I love planning, lists and office supplies. Give me graph paper, newsprint and a whole slew of markers and I’m a happy camper.

Well, usually.

Recently I’ve been going through a growth spurt. Jamie Ridler Studios is flourishing and I’ve been bouncing off the walls with new projects and new ideas. Awesome, right? Well, kind of.

It was awesome until I reached “maximum Jamie capacity.” As ideas overflowed, I overwhelmed! I reached for pens and paper and intrepidly set out to create order from chaos. And it worked, mostly.

Phase 1: What Worked

I booked a space to get out of my regular digs and mindset. I brought 14 pieces of Bristol board: 1 a month for a year, 1 for next year and 1 for “bonbons,” one-off ideas without a home. I brought masses of post-it notes: 1 colour for each project, 1 post-it for each task. I also enlisted help. My assistant was there to remind me that I wanted to enjoy my life and maybe even sleep on occasion.

It was fun! I wrote out tasks with enthusiasm and put them on my calendar sheets. Finding a home for each was like solving a puzzle. Having them up there helped me see when I was starting to overbook. As white space diminished, I knew my energy would too. So I adjusted and made some room. Before I knew it I could see the year ahead and beyond!

Phase 2: Where It All Went Horribly Wrong

Next I thought I would develop detailed project plans, determine what to delegate and schedule in tasks for myself. I thought this would be smart, efficient and give me greater ease. Wrong!

When I got home, I laid the big pages on the floor and pulled out my laptop and datebook. And I worked on it. And worked on it. And worked on it. I asked my sister to come over and we worked on it. After days of struggle, I knelt atop all those pages with all those plans, put my head to the floor and closed my eyes. The only thing left to do was cry.

Then something stirred in me. This couldn’t be the way! So what if it was logical? So what if others work like this? It wasn’t working for me. And working harder, faster, longer, more or better wasn’t going to make this strategy the right one!

What Went Right

Phase 3: My Own Way

So I let it go. I started working with a lighter touch. I’ve parceled my days into sections for each project and during that time I pick from the colourful array of tasks at hand and do as much as I can. Sometimes I pick what’s pressing, sometimes what inspires me. Some days I pick the easiest piece, sometimes the toughest. I trust my instincts and my inclinations and it’s working.

My business is growing and there’s a lot to learn. But I figure it should feel like stretching, not like squishing. I’ve learned to let go of how it ’should’ be and to change my tack when I’m not moving.  And I’ve learned that the Jamie way involves fun, flexibility and forward momentum, none of this head-banging stuff. Unless, of course, there’s a concert.


Jamie Ridler is Jamie Ridler MA CPCC is a creative living coach and director of Jamie Ridler Studios. Through one-on-one coaching, workshops and online resources she helps creative independent spirits align their lives with the truth of who they are. - website: http://www.jamieridlerstudios.ca - podcast: http://www.creativelivingwithjamie.ca - facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jamieridlerstudios - twitter: http://www.twitter.com/starshyne
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2 Responses »

  1. Oh, Jamie! I love this post because I’ve been through the SAME process, sort of. Post it notes and big sheets of paper, and so many tasks that I can’t handle it anymore and feel sooooo overwhelmed. Although it doesn’t feel “efficient,” I’ve given myself permission to follow my intuition about where to spend my time and energy. It feels like a slow process, but it also feels sustainable! Thanks for sharing your own way…

  2. Hi Gretchen, I’m so glad this post spoke to you. Sustainable is key. After all, we’re in this for the long-haul! I think finding that balance between form and freedom is a part of the process for us creative types. I’m glad we’re on the journey together.

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