“Sports kit on/sports kit off” bellowed the Platoon Sergeant and 30 of us rushed out of our accommodation block, only to rush back in, and get changed into our NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) kit.  This is what was called a ‘change parade’ and part of reconstructing our personalities and characters (for the better in my case).

We were being timed and I must admit I was struggling to keep up.  It is October 1972 and I still recall that horrible feeling of not being in control and being disorganised.  I was in the fourth week of basic training at a Junior Leaders Battalion (British Army) somewhere in Surrey.  Getting it wrong could result in this…

A Weekly room inspection during basic training and that one idiot that had a sock out of place in his locker!!!

Fortunately for me, after six weeks, I had my first weekend ‘leave’ and the chance to reflect on how I could become more organised.  After a good talking-to from my mum, I came back with a plan and suddenly my life improved – I now had the beginnings of an organisational system which I have been improving on ever since.  It accelerated when I met Joyce, my wife, who takes being organised to a whole new level. 

Related:   Taking the time to time manage – my top 40 tips – Leadership in the Raw (most of these time management tips come from Joyce)

Fifty years on and a Draft Board Meeting minutes references I am “super organised” (although by the time it becomes the final copy it is downgraded to “organised”).   Hey-Ho, it is the thought that counts.

The purpose of this article is to share some of my ‘be more organised’ tips and recommendations so you don’t have to experience having your kit thrown out of the window during your next inspection.

My Top 7 ‘be more organised’ tips that have worked for me

  1. Rituals are oftena series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed that overtime become a natural habitWhen driving, do you find that you go up and down the gears without giving it much thought?  It becomes a ritual. 
  2. Routines.  During my 18 months as a Junior Leader, from the age of 16 to 17 there were many commonplace tasks, chores, and duties which had to be done regularly, or at specified intervals, as everyday activity.  My challenge was to make them as efficient and smooth as possible.  I transferred my learning into all aspects of my life and work.
  3. Planning & Preparation   The 7 Ps is a British Army adage for Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents a P*ss Poor Performance.  This was drummed into us from day one and it has been integral to everything I do in both my home and work life.  I often hear people say, “I don’t have time to plan,” especially when they have a project to manage – my response is: “you will have to find time to correct things when they go wrong,”  which is often through a lack of investment in planning and preparation. 
  4. Anticipation.  Anticipate your way to success:  Anticipate your way to success – Leadership in the Raw  “There are two ways to face the future.  One way is with apprehension; the other is with anticipation”  Jim Rohn
  5. Forecasting.  During a 30-month attachment to the Royal Marines, I was struck by their obsession with weather forecasts.  For the first couple of months, I was constantly asked if I had checked the weather forecast.  They were keen to know where I had sourced my forecasts (there was a standard to be upheld!).  By forecasting what was coming, I was able to know what my working conditions would look like and the equipment I would need in the coming days.  Needless to say, I have a BBC weather app on my smartphone, and I check the weather for the day ahead.
  6. Surround yourself with organised people.  I am lucky working for www.dosh.org all of our team are self-sufficient and  super organised.  Surrounding yourself with organised people means they have high expectations of you – it stops me getting complacent and reminds me that I can continue to progress and be better organised. 
  7. Self-discipline – “you have to keep doing it or you will end up in freefall, and when you end up in freefall you do not achieve anything” – Joyce Raw

Yesterday, I didn’t follow my regular ritual when getting ready for my early morning swim and turned up without my wallet to pay – a wasted journey.  At 5am I am usually on ‘auto-pilot’ and rely on my routine, and this morning I adhered to it! 

Five-minute klaxon!!!  Joyce calls out“5 minutes” and we all leap up in different directions, completing our roles and responsibilities:  plugs – unplugged, lights switched off; curtains if necessary opened or closed; coats and shoes on; personal items collated e.g., car keys.  This is a standard operating procedure for the Raw family before we leave our house. 

We are a well-oiled machine.

“For every minute spent organising,  an hour is earned”

Benjamin Franklin


The first leadership lesson I learned – It is about others before you – Leadership in the Raw

The second leadership lesson I learned – Self Discipline – Leadership in the Raw

The 3rd Leadership Lesson I learned – Surround yourself with Talent – Leadership in the Raw

The fourth leadership lesson I learned  ‘Self – Respect’ – Leadership in the Raw