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Internal Auditor's Work Ethic: A Balance Between Focus, Buffering, and Free Time Rest




As a professional internal auditor, you play a pivotal role that is as demanding as it is rewarding. You're the guardian of organizational integrity and efficiency, combing through company records, pinpointing compliance issues, spotting risks, investigating fraud, and offering invaluable council on management action plans. But how labor-intensive is the life of an internal auditor? And more importantly, how can you manage your workload to optimize efficiency and well-being?


A Harmonious Trio of Workday Categories


Under the mentorship of Dan Sullivan in my CEO Coaching Group, I was introduced to a profound concept about managing workdays. He proposed that an executive's workdays should be neatly divided into three categories: Focused days, Buffer Activities days, and Free days. This segmentation encourages a balanced approach to work that not only ensures productivity but also gives due importance to mental health and overall well-being.


Focused Days


Focused days are exactly what they suggest: days devoted to high-level, value-driven tasks. These are the days when internal auditors delve head-first into the heart of auditing, scrutinizing financial documents, identifying risks, and formulating solutions. It's during these days that the most critical part of an auditor's job unfolds.


However, according to this concept, these focused days should ideally make up only one-third of the work time. Working with intensity is crucial, but it's equally important to remember that we can't - and shouldn't - be in 'focused' mode all the time.


Buffer Activities Days


Buffer Activities days are designed for tasks that support the primary work but aren't necessarily the core tasks themselves. For an internal auditor, these could include planning and preparing for audits, attending meetings, training sessions, or even staying abreast of industry trends and news.


These activities, while not directly tied to the main job, are essential for maintaining the smooth functioning of operations and staying updated with necessary information. They serve as a 'buffer', providing the mind some respite from intense focused work while still remaining fruitful.


Free Days


Finally, we have Free days. These are the days dedicated entirely to rest and rejuvenation. They allow the brain to reset, fostering mental health, and ensuring you're geared up to tackle the next set of tasks with renewed vigor and focus.


Free days go beyond just taking a break from work; they're about indulging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. Whether it's immersing yourself in a book, chasing a hobby, spending quality time with loved ones, or simply basking in the art of doing nothing at all!


Further Exploration


For those who are intrigued by this concept and wish to delve deeper, I recommend "The Power of Full Engagement" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The book brilliantly explores the notion of managing energy, not time, as the secret to high performance and personal renewal.


Another insightful read is "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" by Greg McKeown, which delves into the concept of accomplishing more by doing less, focusing on the genuinely important tasks and eliminating the rest.


As an internal auditor, your role demands hard work, dedication, and a significant amount of effort. But remember, working smart is just as crucial as working hard. By partitioning 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.


Lastly, to aid in your journey as an internal auditor, I highly recommend attending the auditor training events offered by Compliance Seminars. These events provide valuable insights and skills that can greatly enhance your auditing capabilities. Check out their offerings here.

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