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Reload this page Strategizing

Here are ideas presented in a structure which you can use over and over to courageously face any problem and come up with creative solutions.


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The easiest way to have less hassles and mistakes in your life is to create conditions in your environment which make it less possible for them to occur. Some call this strategy streamlining or prevention . The Japanese call it mistake-proofing (“kan ban”). Good strategies well executed from Project Plans is the key to success in any endeavor.

It's easier to put on slippers than to try to carpet the world.

Blossom Time by Dubravko Raos.  Get this print framed on your wall!
Get this print framed for your wall!


A. Physical Proximity:
“What if things are in
a different place?”


  • Put trash can under the table so good stuff doesn't drop into it by mistake.
  • If you use three hole punchers a lot, leave it on your desk with an open space in front of it. This saves you from moving papers around whenever you need it. It is also a hassle when paper is punched wrong.
  • Always put your keys in one place Don't put anything else there. This saves you from having to look around for things.
  • If you find that you have to take extra effort to put things where they SHOULD be, find a place that is close to where you are when you have to USE that item. For example, leave keys close to the door.
  • If you are right handed, use your left hand to point and click with the computer's mouse. This frees up your right hand for writing.
  • Before you buy something, think about where you will put it and what you need to do to make room for it.

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B. Sequence:
“What if actions are done at the same or a different time?”

    From Dilbert's Laws of Work “If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done.”

    Do activities which require similar conditions together:

  • Use separate receptacles to sort recylables as you throw things away.
  • Always lock doors from the outside rather than setting the lock from the inside. This way you know you are not locking yourself out.
  • Plan your trips to do several tasks. Put items you have to a COPY folder, then copy several items at once. This saves you going to the copier several times.
  • If you wear contacts which have to be taken off each day, put them on immediately after you come out of the shower, when you know your hands are clean.
  • Prepare food after you take off your contacts. You'll only have to wash your hands once!
  • When cutting up an onion, you'll lose fewer tears if you cut the root end off last.

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C. Allocation:
“What if there is
more (or less) of this?”

    “The early bird catches the worm.”

  • Arrive early to meetings and relax. Be on time. Six people waiting ten miinutes is the same as one person doing nothing for an hour. This also creates animosity which infects other activities. Some people will never forget a tardiness.
  • Define how much time you would like to spend with each person or group of people you know each day, week, month, and year. (Clubs, friends, spouse, in-laws, nieces, nephews, children, etc.) Many find that it is enough to once a year send some a Christmas card. People often don't communicate their desire for a more or less amount of time than they get.

    This is one of the most important exercises we teach our coaching clients to do.
  • Define how much money you should invest in each aspect of your life. Some people resist putting together a budget to avoid facing their challenges directly.

    Coaches help make this process less painful.
  • Periodically stop and ask yourself: “Am I doing the most valuable activity now?”

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D. Coordination:
“What if people
know more (or less)?”


  • Periodically (at least once an hour) stop and refer to your Personal Plan —your To Do List with a specific time when you will do them.
  • Leave a note when you remove something. Example:

    “12/1/98 Took the M. Smith Archive folder. Will return Dec. 18. — Jack Snow 310.320-7878”

  • On documents you create, write the file name where the source document can be found. If it's not so simple, then the file name on the document should be the file name of the document with instructions on how to change it.
  • Write up instructions on how someone can take over for you in case you are out ill. Thos who take the time to write instructions usually report that it was worth the time because you will probably find ways to streamline how you are doing things.
  • Draft up a “Will” so that if you die, people are not left wondering what you prefer. This will save them much grief and hassle.
  • Attach a sticker on each piece of equipment telling who and how to call for help. Many service companies do this.

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E. Redundancy:
“What if more (or less) people
did this?”


  • Leave a place cleaner than you found it. Leaving a mess for others to clean up is both a safety hazard and inconsiderate.
  • Put up a sign. This alerts others so they don't make matters worse. Example:

    “Toilet doesn't flush. —Jim Smith 3/9/99”

  • Store extra water, food, lights, batteries, septic toilet, etc. in case of natural disasters (earthquake, power outage, etc.)

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Other Examples

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