My new mantra for getting journalists to be more organised

I invented a mantra a couple of weeks ago.

It’s so good, I’ve been using it on a virtually daily basis since – sometimes twice a day.

Brace yourselves: this is it.

“Make structure your friend.”

Ok, I may have to work on it if I want it to be the title of a best-selling self-help handbook for would-be entrepreneurs or Olympians.

But the slightly counterintuitive message it encapsulates is that the boring, administrative rigidity of planning and routine can actually be incredibly liberating.

I talk to journalists every day about the challenge of keeping increasing numbers of plates spinning.

There’s no point denying that resource constraints play a part in the strain they feel under.

But taking a strategic view of our day, our week, and even our month, allows us to make the transition from victim to controller.

Most reporters, news editors and editors that I work with have to-do lists.

But we need to develop these into proper, thought-out plans which allow us to plot our priorities, our must-dos and our would-like-tos, on a rolling basis.

Because here’s the thing.

Planning ahead – putting in the tedious Outlook calendar work, for example – helps us find the times which we can ring-fence to get out of the office, to write that magazine feature, or to do those 1-2-1s.

In other words, structure can free us up to do the things we really want to do.

So, this week, don’t be like the man who can’t ever eat a meal booked in advance.

Don’t be allergic to diary.

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