Working in my beautiful mess

By Georgia Knox, graduate of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program and a Business Leader Postgraduate Scholarship recipient

Georgia Knox

If you want something done, ask a busy person.

We’ve all heard that phrase. Coined by one of America’s founding fathers, the notion has been in existence for longer than Australia was deemed to be a thing. But with the fast pace and complexity of contemporary life, being “busy” has become the standard. We are all busy. As such, the modern interpretation of the phrase could be “If you want something done, ask anyone” (but I can’t see that lasting the test of time).

So being busy is no longer a differentiator. It’s what you do about it.

My MBA colleagues are some of the most time-stretched people I know. Yet each of us are making our way through the whirlwind of classes, study, networking events, assignments, exams, group assignments and social occasions while still keeping-up with LAU (life as usual). So how do we do it?

The truth is, I don’t have a comprehensive answer. I can’t package up 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or a 4 Hour Work Week for you. However, I can share that doing an MBA has made me realise that my way of managing in this crazy world is just fine and that I should not be intimidated by the noise around me. Some may have itemized spreadsheets, others a preference for tasks from which they only derive financial benefit – but if those methods of organisation are not to true to who you are then they are never going to work.

Thank goodness for this. Because I work in a mess (you can make the inference about how reflective this is of who I am). It is an interesting, challenging and exciting one… but gosh it is a big mess. And I am ok with that. You may work in a mess too. There is an onslaught of emails, calls, texts, meetings, travel, documents, readings, social events, hangovers and then when something new comes along you say “of course I would love to be involved” and figure out how you will make it all work later.

It is my eternal desire to clean up this mess that keep me going at pace, but completion of tasks and achievement of goals inevitably leads to it spreading further without containment.

Every morning I write myself a ‘to do’ list. It even has little tick boxes next to each task so that I can get a real kick out of the flick of the pen. Yet, every afternoon I look at my list and think about how useless it was and how few items have been ticked. UFDs (unanticipated flying distractions) took place such as new tasks, impromptu discussions, technological breakdowns or the good old simple tiredness that prevented me from having a nicely hand-marked page.

But I still feel as satisfied as if that page was full of ticks. Because I reprioritised according to the needs of the day – and did not keep myself restricted to a specific plan. Plans rarely hold stable in our personal lives, so how can we expect more from them in our professional ones? And, since doing the MBA I trust myself with the decisions that I make every day to manage this accordingly. This realisation is an emancipating one.

So I am not just okay with my big, beautiful mess. I am proud.

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