My Working Day – Alex Fitzgerald – Founder and CEO at Cuckoo

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example and to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? We spoke to Alex Fitzgerald, founder and CEO at Cuckoo, about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

I normally start bright and early at 6 am.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

My hectic schedule doesn’t usually afford me much time to sit down and eat, so breakfast is often just coffee with a splash of milk!

What is the rest of your morning routine?

I try to fit in as much exercise as possible before starting the day, and I always make sure to appease the Duolingo owl with a bit of morning language practice.

What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?

I open my laptop and get my head into the company’s Slack channels. This is where our marketing, design, tech and service teams are chattering all day and constantly updating each other on their various projects and news, so it’s my first port of call in the morning to catch up on anything that’s come in overnight.

Then it’s onto my emails and (probably too much!) Twitter to make sure I’m up to speed with business and the wider world. After that, it’s a quick scan of the day’s headlines in the FT, the Economist, and BBC News.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I always have a running to-do list. It’s roughly divided into the things I need to get done that day, that week, and then longer-term. Every item is given a 1-4 priority rating. Once it’s all rated and organised, I smash through them in order of urgency. I try to review this every day, but that doesn’t always happen!

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

I like a good mixture of pre-planned and meetings on the fly. It’s always important to touch bases with the team, whether scheduled or not.

Do you have a working lunch or do you take a break?

It’s often a bit of both – I’ll take a break but it’s usually with a YouTube video on a topic that will keep my brain switched on. If it’s Wednesday (and meetings allow), I try to catch the Prime Minister’s Questions – always a bit of fun.

When does your working day finish?

When I eventually head to bed!

How do you prepare for the next day’s work?

I try to take one working day at a time. While there’s always a certain amount of future thinking needed when you’re running a business, I think it’s also important to hone your focus on what’s needed of you right now. If I do think of tomorrow’s work, it won’t be until around 9 pm.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

As the founder of a tech company, you’d think my answer would be something really complex, but currently, it’s the Duolingo app!

How do you switch off?

Lots of founders go on wellness retreats or take part in digital detoxes, but I can genuinely say that jumping out of a plane (an exercise as part of my time in the Army Reserves) makes you forget all about the stresses of your business!

My day-to-day techniques aren’t all that extreme. My Wednesday evenings are dedicated to being work-free and doing army stuff. I switch my phone off and try to think about anything other than work.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I try not to pay too much attention to most advice. Many treat advice as if they’ve just been given the holy grail, but I’m a firm believer in treating others’ advice simply like a data point. You know your own life and business best – and the best way to find your path is to experiment.

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