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The Work Ethic of an Internal Auditor: A Balance Between Focus, Buffering, and Rest

The role of an internal auditor is both challenging and rewarding. Internal auditors are the gatekeepers of organizational integrity and efficiency, examining and analyzing company records, identifying compliance concerns, risks, fraud, and making valuable recommendations. But how hard does an internal auditor really work? And more importantly, how should they manage their workload for maximum efficiency and well-being?

The Three-Part Harmony of Workdays


In my CEO Coaching Group, lead by Dan Sullivan, I learned a valuable concept about managing workdays. They suggested that an executive's workdays should be divided into three categories: Focused days, Buffer Activities days, and Free days. This division encourages a balanced approach to work, ensuring productivity while also prioritizing mental health and overall well-being.


Focused Days


Focused days are exactly what they sound like: days dedicated to high-level, value-driven tasks. These are the days when internal auditors dive deep into the nitty-gritty of auditing, analyzing financial documents, identifying risks, and suggesting solutions. It's during these days that the most significant part of an auditor's job gets done.


However, as per the concept, these focused days should ideally constitute only one-third of the work time. Working hard is important, but it's equally crucial to remember that we can't - and shouldn't - be in 'focused' mode all the time.


Buffer Activities Days


Buffer Activities days are meant for tasks that support the primary work but are not necessarily the core tasks themselves. For an internal auditor, these could include planning and preparing for audits, attending meetings, training, or even catching up on industry trends and news.


These activities, while not directly linked to the main job, are essential for maintaining the smooth running of operations and staying updated with necessary information. They act as a 'buffer', allowing the mind some respite from intensive focused work while still remaining productive.


Free Days


Finally, there are Free days. These are the days dedicated entirely to rest and rejuvenation. They allow the brain to reset, helping maintain mental health, and ensuring you're ready to tackle the next set of tasks with renewed energy and focus.


Free days are not just about taking a break from work, but also about engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. It could be reading a book, pursuing a hobby, spending time with loved ones, or simply doing nothing at all!


Further Reading


For those interested in exploring this concept further, I recommend "The Power of Full Engagement" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The book explores the idea of managing energy, not time, as the key to high performance and personal renewal.


In addition, "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" by Greg McKeown delves deep into the concept of doing less but better, focusing on the truly important tasks and eliminating the rest.


Ultimately, being an internal auditor requires hard work, dedication, and a lot of effort



. But remember, working smart is just as important as working hard. By dividing your workdays into Focused, Buffer Activities, and Free days, you can ensure a balanced, sustainable approach to your work, leading to greater productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.

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