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Photograph: Courtesy of Andy Parsons

Four Londoners with big shot jobs reveal how they stay on top of things

By Alice Saville

Do you need to organise your life, but don’t know the first place to start? No worries; we enlisted the help of four London professionals who know a thing or two about managing a diary, running through a task list and totally keeping their cool while they’re at it.

Photograph: Andy Parsons

Ella May McDermott, Stage manager of ‘Les Misérables’

‘If you saw “Les Misérables”, you’d think we had backstage spaces the size of football pitches, but it’s actually cramped. Huge pieces of scenery, rifles, flagpoles … it’s all got to stay organised or someone gets hurt. Everything has it’s labelled spot, and it goes straight back there after use.’

Photograph: Andy Parsons

Jan Konetzki, Wine director

‘I work across four restaurants and it took me awhile to learn the skills of time management. Mapping out how I was spending my time was a real breakthrough. Now I try never to open an email twice – I reply right away! And each morning I plan my day on paper. Even if I only get 75 percent of it done, crossing things off feels really good.’

Photograph: Andy Parsons

Will Spoelstra, Supervisor of the Palm House at Kew Gardens

‘It’s good to stay flexible: if you map something out to perfection and it goes wrong, you can fall to bits. And trust your team, it takes the pressure off you. I’ve learned that, just like I need to water and prune each plant differently, it’s the same for people you work with. Treat them differently to get the best out of them.’

Photograph: Andy Parsons

Arike Oke, Managing director of Black Cultural Archives

‘The challenge with my job is that there are different layers: as well as being an archive, we act as a safe space for the community, and we host free legal surgeries for people affected by the hostile environment. For me, the key is working collaboratively. If I tried to do it all myself, I’d probably fall over!’

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