My Working Day – David Done – Chief Executive of RHP

My Working Day
David Done
David Done

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, 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?

Business Leader spoke to David Done – Chief Executive of RHP about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

I’m an early riser, my alarm goes off at 5 am and I try to be up by 5.30 am. Failing that my English shorthair cat Harry invariably jumps on our bed, even at weekends when I don’t want to get up at 5.30 am! 

What do you typically have for breakfast?

I’m a creature of habit so I usually have a bowl of porridge and granary toast all washed down with bucket loads of coffee. If I’m having a treat breakfast it has to be a stack of fluffy American blueberry pancakes.

What is the rest of your morning routine before you start?

 I try to always start the day with 30 minutes of exercise, a routine I’ve found invaluable for helping maintain good mental health over the past year of working at home. I used to do loads of running but it took out on my knees so I usually hit the Peloton bike, which I love because of feeling connected to other riders from all over the world including members of my senior team. After this session, I always feel fully alive and find that it supercharges my thought processes. Without exercise, I definitely feel sluggish and lacking ideas. I will then say ‘hello’ to my gorgeous nine-month-old labradoodle, Maise, who’s full of love and joy. Unlike me, she likes a lie in! 

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

I always make a plan for the day ahead – listing out the key things I need to do or meetings to attend, including key points I want to discuss or communicate, and what I’d like to get out of interactions with people.

I spend a few minutes reflecting on my state of mind and my mood, and how I can be at my best for the day ahead. Sometimes if I haven’t slept well or am not feeling on top form I remind myself to pay attention to how I’m communicating with others and to be extra careful about words and language.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I have a simple structure I try to follow. Firstly, I use the first hour to clear emails from my inbox. I also try to spend some time posting on our in-house social network Yammer which is brilliant for finding out what’s happening across RHP and how people are feeling.

The next couple of hours is my golden time – usually when I have my best ideas and can communicate them in the way I want to. I generally, try to hold meetings in the morning and keep the afternoons clear(ish) for thinking time and for catching up on admin including report writing.

As I sit on the board of a couple of other housing associations, I often spend the end of the day reading reports or attending meetings. 

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

With everything now being done online, I’ve tried to think more about what meetings I really need to have – and which don’t have to take place in that format. As a result, I’m now having less than before. I’m also trying to make them shorter and more focused this certainly helps me with ‘Zoom fatigue’ and hopefully setting a good example for others in my organisation. When I do hold them, I try to be clear about what they are for and what contribution I can make.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

I never used to but now that we’re all working from home, I find that it really helps to stop an hour and get away from the laptop. I’ll often take my puppy for a walk and find that having a break really helps to boost energy and regain focus for later in the day. 

When does your working day finish?

I try to stop work by 6 pm and have been working hard not to glance at emails after this time. That said, I usually have at least one evening meeting a week to attend, sometimes more.

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

I end each day by looking at my diary and making a list of things I need to think about. I then start each day with a plan of things I want to do or to achieve. As you can probably tell I like things to be organised! 

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

For me, it’s more about software than it is the hardware itself. I must admit, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Zoom! I often find myself thinking that if Covid had hit us five years earlier, how much more difficult it would have been to move to remote working and to keep our services going. I also love MS Teams and the way it connects us all together so seamlessly.

How do you switch off?

I’m big into my podcasts, my current favourite is Americast. I also love climbing big mountains – when we can all travel. If we’re allowed to travel by then, I’m hoping to get to Ecuador towards the end of the year to climb a volcano called Cotapaxi, it’s part of the ring of fire. I also love getting out on the water windsurfing, especially on the beautiful South Coast. Plus, lots of walks around our village definitely helps me unwind.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The purpose of life is to live.

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