Five soft markers of organisational aptitude #WILTW

This is the 148th #WILTW

Some people appear to be inherently efficient. With no more hours in the day than anyone else they have extensive outputs, meet deadlines and never seem flustered. Pre-internet this was, in large part, due to hard work, dedication and perhaps cognitive skills suited to rapid processing of large amounts of information. Post-internet workloads are dominated by electronic communication and technology which has now become a blessing and a curse. The tools to deal with e-mails, documents and knowledge translation (whether that be from an academic or managerial perspective) are ubiquitous and you can spend hours organising information on how to organise information.

Key influencers in my personal learning networks are often asked to share how they stay so productive while simultaneously staying sane. Some examples below:

Getting sh*t done by @emcrit

How I work smarter from @ALiEMteam 

I come no where near achieving half of what is suggested in these blogs. However I have noticed in my role as a clinical supervisor a few indicators which demonstrate someone has considered how they manage their time. The absence or poor use of them is not a damning indictment of their organisational skills but helpful for framing conversations.

1) Folder Organisation

How quickly can you find a document you wrote 3 months ago? Is it pasted somewhere on the 112 items you have on your desktop or in a sub-folder labelled well enough to find via a search or side-bar?

2) Out of office notification

Not sure this counts as being a method of improving productivity but it is a common courtesy to highlight you won’t be responding to e-mails for a set period. Responding to e-mails when you have the notification active is a different issue…

3) Number of e-mails waiting to be triaged

This is controversial I know.  However I’m not convinced it is possible to say you are on top of things if you have 1324 e-mails in your inbox. Smarts phone often show the total number waiting to be read so a glance at someone’s front screen (aside from potentially being an invasion of privacy) can tell you a lot.


4) How you record your jobs and/or to-do list 

I’m not convinced there is a right or wrong way of doing it but you should have some way. Watching someone trying to find a scrap of paper to start scribbling a list of jobs on doesn’t inspire confidence (which is why I’m gutted when I end up doing it!)

5) Ability to share documents 

This is the least discriminatory of the indicators but I’ve seen a definite increase in the last couple of years of using Google Docs/Dropbox etc as a means of avoiding file version hell. At least three colloborations I am part of will say this is a bit rich as I am not a paragon of virtue in this regard. However suggesting, “How shall I share this?” says a lot about underlying mindset and experience in my humble opinion.

Be interested in thoughts and very happy to take criticisms!

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

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3 thoughts on “Five soft markers of organisational aptitude #WILTW”

  1. Don’t bother putting things in special folders, Damian. Just name the files sensibly and use a decent search program like Alfred (on the Mac) to make searching intuitive. I did try electronic list managers but it is easy to get overwhelmed. I’ve now moved to analog tools and use a week per double page Moleskine to record my Most Important Project for the week, the papers I’ve got to work on and blogpost ideas that I don’t want to forget.

    Google Drive is our go to at DFTB for file sharing/working on papers

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