My Working Day – Dino Dullabh – Co-Founder and Director of Strategy, Law Training Centre
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 Dino Dullabh, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at the Law Training Centre, about his working day.
What time do you wake up?
I’m a school-run dad and take our three children to school at two different locations across Canterbury. So, I wake up at 5.45 am to make sure I have enough time in the mornings because as well as preparing for my day, we’re preparing the children for theirs.
Fortunately, flexible working means I get to make what is ‘just the school run’ into a special, daily quality time routine with our children. I feel that teaching them the importance of sticking to a schedule, prepping for the day ahead and ultimately starting the day as you mean to continue, is a crucial life skill!
What do you typically have for breakfast?
Half a litre of water followed by a double decaf macchiato and oats with some honey.
What is the rest of your morning routine?
I’m back at my home office by 8:30 following the school run. These 30 minutes before ‘business opens’ are an important chance to review the plan for the day (which has been made the night, days or week before depending on how hectic the past few days have been) to see if anything needs adding or removing.
When I can, I attend a morning fitness class – either cardio or strength training. Experience has shown that I don’t switch off when exercising solo, so I’ve made the conscious step to join a group with an instructor to ensure I become fully absorbed and mentally switch off before I switch back on for the day ahead.
What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?
The first thing I do is review the meeting schedule for the day ahead, followed by emails, Asana, Teams, and WhatsApp messages (the latter being the preferred medium for our Indian and South African clients and contacts). This means I can pick up any urgent messages that may need my attention first thing. To keep my day structured, I also make sure to plan out time to reply to anything non-urgent later in the day.
How do you prioritise your day’s work?
I might be showing my age here, but I’ve used the Stephen Covey quadrant for years, since high school in fact. It’s an old system of prioritising but it’s as effective today as it was when I was younger and can be an absolute lifesaver.
Even in the current age of excellent project management software, this framework can be drawn in a second on a piece of paper and I find it’s invaluable in helping me quickly prioritise a busy to-do list.
Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?
Meetings certainly aren’t a waste of time as far as we’re concerned! Thankfully as a fully remote and digitally native organisation, we’re comfortable and adept at using Teams and other software for most of our meetings. That saves us commuting hours, meeting room clashes and the rest, whilst ensuring we still get the face-to-face collaborative time we need.
That said, one can, and sometimes does, book back-to-back meetings and end up thinking that the topics could have been dealt with just as easily via the Teams chat function or Asana.
So, when starting my day, I always like to ask myself and my team if that meeting is still needed. Often enough, in the intervening time between the meeting being booked and the day it’s supposed to take place, things have moved on and we don’t need a full meeting anymore.
That said, as important as efficiency is for a business, it’s not the only thing that counts. As a tech-led organisation, meetings create the space for impromptu ‘water cooler’ chats and human touchpoints, so it’s about striking a balance. Like most things in business, I try to use my judgment and emotional intelligence when deciding.
Do you have a working lunch or do you take a break?
I prefer smaller meals and breaks throughout the day rather than a long lunch. Not having the tea and coffee facilities in my office forces me to leave the office and head to the kitchen.
I love making a Greek coffee or brewing a tea, properly in a teapot, as it requires time to do so and is an opportunity to be mindful and take a break. It’s important to get that time away from a screen and give yourself the chance to decompress for a few minutes.
When does your working day finish?
In theory, I aim to finish no later than 6 pm as then is time with the family. But in reality, the creative thought process never stops. When you sign up to run and grow a business that you are passionate about, you are always ‘working’ because you live and breathe your passion.
Ultimately, I measure my day in terms of what I have achieved, not in hours – I really believe in the importance of work/life fluidity for business leaders.
How do you prepare for the next day’s work?
I will prep for meetings and book in time to undertake specific tasks so that I zone my time and don’t get distracted – or led – by the phone or inbox.
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
Other than Asana, my latest favourite is the electric standing desk. While standing up to work takes some getting used to, it has literally improved my health and made the working day more physically sustainable.
How do you switch off?
For me, being physically active or mentally absorbed allows me to switch off. Spending time with the family and properly connecting with them is the best way to unwind, and researching the next road trip or foreign adventure allows me to mentally travel anywhere in the world!
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Don’t be afraid to dream big but take it one step at a time. Beware impatience – incremental growth adds up. Moving forward step by step is still moving forward.