Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Maintaining flexibility while retaining structure? Structure defines the parameters of your life while organization is what makes it work.

Structure + Organization = Flexibility

Exzenterhaus, Bochum, Germany – Designed by architect Gerhard Spangenberg

This gorgeous building is a terrific example of architectural flexibility. Structurally sound, carefully organized, it blows my mind.

According to Wikipedia, the cylindrical bomb shelter stands 22 metres and was constructed in 1942. The structure was built with 520 beds and 52 seats, but would accommodate more than 3,000 people during air raids on Bochum. In 2009, the building was sold and re-construction completed in 2013. It rises 15 stories above the top of the bunker and at an overall height of 90.5 meters, it is the tallest building in Bochum. The name, Exzenterhaus, literately means “eccentric house” in German, which itself is derived from the latin phrase “ex centro”, meaning off-centre.

Let’s take a closer look at what it all means to our discussion. How do you maintain flexibility in order to lead a more interesting life? How do you manage the anxiety that often accompanies change?

In life, as in work, rigidity is the opposite of innovation. One partner says, “Let’s take out a loan so we can accomplish our goals.” The other thinks, “We talked about this. We said, no debt!” Clearly a standstill unless they can both agree on how to work out a compromise. Perhaps they decide to look at all the ways they might find an answer that satisfies them both.

Being flexible doesn’t mean giving up something. Rather, it’s a mindset- an openness to new ideas and ways of thinking. It’s saying, ‘yes, and’ instead of no thank you. Often negative thinking is reflexive.

How can we avoid the negative, thereby enriching our lives with new opportunities? How do we release the hold anxiety has on us?

Here are a few tips from the ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America). You can find lots more strategies on their website.

Flexible-based Strategies

  • Take a time-out. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Try healthful, energy-boosting snacks n hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine. They aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best. Stop aiming for perfection, be proud of how close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective.
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find a way to be active in your community.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else? Look for patterns.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
Spiral Staircase

Life rarely goes in a straight line. The more flexible you can be, the more resilient you become. And, resiliency leads to new directions, unknown adventures and a more fulfilling life.

Earlier I said ‘Structure defines the parameters of your life while organization is what makes it work’. Many books suggest that you develop a morning routine, that you discover when you do your best work and time it to coincide with your most productive time.

I believe we need to set guidelines – approximately what time will we exercise, how many hours will we spend working – when is optimal for us to wake up and go to bed? Time is not limitless. You make more of the time you have when you organize around the structure that becomes our day, and, it is absolutely true that we then, naturally experience more energy, productivity and creativity.

And what follows is setting boundaries that let you accomplish what you set out to do because, you don’t let anyone or anything get in your way. Selfish? Maybe. Unrealistic? Probably. Effective. Most definitely.

The clearer you are on the structure that works for you, and the more you organize around that structure, the closer you will get to living the life that works best for you!

My wish for you is that you go through your day fulfilled. That, at the end of the day, you look back and say, “Wow. I really enjoyed today.”

Do you feel your days could be less stressful and more productive. Grab my book, Taming Time, and find out how to make it so.