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The attribute of organisation

For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned” - Benjamin Franklin


Defining organisation


The Oxford dictionary defines organisation as:


the act of making arrangements or preparations for something


In the context of your work life, this refers to the ability to understand what your commitments are, prioritise them, plan for them and organise your diary accordingly. The crucial step beyond this definition is then sticking to the commitments that you have made to others and yourself.


Both Olivia Bishop and Ellie Worster highlighted organisation as a key attribute in their success. From Olivia’s perspective as a business owner and Audit Manager, she needs to be on top of everything and has to ensure that her to-do list is continually reviewed for priorities. Ellie, as a Senior Manager in Buzzacott’s business outsourcing team, is constantly “spinning plates” and so needs organisation to manage her commitments.



Why is organisation important?


Organisation is important in all walks of life. Without it, you can easily become overwhelmed by your responsibilities.


In today’s world, organisation is more important than ever. Technology means that tasks are being added to our workload at a much higher rate than we can get through them. An email received at 11pm can create 2 hours of work that you hadn’t accounted for the next day or a text on the way into work might mean that you have to spend the first hour of your day digging out information for someone else to use. All of these things eat away at your time and can stop you from getting your day job done.


What organisation forces you to do is prioritise. If you can capably prioritise your tasks, you then give yourself the ability to say no to things you won’t realistically get a chance to do. This is empowering as it frees your time from thankless and sometimes pointless pieces of work so that you can focus on what you do best.


What does organisation look like?


In episode 5 Olivia essentially defined organisation as “being on top of everything”, prioritising and not allowing stuff to “slip”. For her, this means juggling the commitments of a high pressure job as an Audit Manager in a top firm - on its own enough of a challenge - alongside responding to Toco Swim clients, arranging, planning for and attending meetings with potential partners, organising photo shoots and creating financial plans. This, on top of looking after a 6 month old baby.


Ellie used the phrase “spinning plates” to articulate her perception of organisation and how she does it. When you break down this analogy, it is a clear demonstration of the requirements for organisation; multiple items (the plates) that need to be prioritised (you attend to the plate closest to falling off first) so that you can keep everybody happy (maintaining the plates as spinning) and avoid failing to meet your commitments (smashing plates).


Organisation and discipline go hand in hand. A disciplined routine is the hallmark of successful people. Discipline breeds organisation and organisation permits discipline. If you have a disciplined routine, you will find it difficult to be unorganised.


If you look at the schedules of Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Steve Jobs, it’s abundantly clear that at no point in the day are they wasting time deciding what to do next:

  • For Dwayne Johnson, it’s a 4am alarm followed by a run and then the gym

  • Mark Wahlberg rolls out of bed, prays, eats his breakfast and then completes his daily workout

  • Steve Jobs would be up at 6, working by 6:30 and ready to join his family for breakfast by 7:30

Big rocks first! Big rocks are the key things that you want to get done. Scheduling big rocks first thing each day reduces the likelihood of distractions. Don’t fill your day with big rocks inevitably smaller pebbles will fill in the gaps. Big rocks for Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg would be their gym sessions, whereas Steve Jobs might have viewed time spent with his family as a big rock. For each of them these big rocks are addressed before 8am!



Become an organised person


In order to become an organised person, you need to exercise the discipline referred to above. Planning, prioritising and arranging your days and weeks is redundant if you don’t have the discipline to stick to these plans. Three key steps to follow in becoming organised are:


  1. An organised diary - Use your work calendar to maintain your plan and organisation. If you make the commitments to yourself to complete certain tasks at certain times and stick to it, you will get a lot more done.

  2. Removing distractions:

  3. Turn your personal phone off - and put it out of reach and out of sight. You can check your phone periodically throughout the day if you need to but with whatsapp messages constantly flashing up you will get nothing done.

  4. Check emails periodically - similar to the above, close your email completely if you can and only check it periodically. I personally disable the new email notification to avoid being inundated.

  5. Keep your inbox empty - Use rules to ensure that emails that you know are a waste of time never reach you. Once you read an email delete it, move it or respond. If it stays in your inbox unaddressed you will read it multiple times before you do anything with it.

  6. Shortening your to-do list - Speaking from my experience in both audit, industry and now recruitment, I have found that items can sit on your to-do list for weeks and months and ultimately never get done because they are not important. This serves no purpose other than to overwhelm; so remove tasks that have no place being there and ensure that only the big rocks and the important pebbles hit your list!


Organisation is a liberating trait - if you can master it, your productivity will be through the roof.



Let me know your thoughts


If you found this article useful, or felt that there was something missing, go ahead and leave a comment!


#organisation #successinfinance #careers #finance

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