My Working Day – Hugh Thomas – Founder of UGLY Drinks

My Working Day

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?

Business Leader spoke to Hugh Thomas – Founder of UGLY Drinks about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

I usually wake up between 6-6.30am. I like to give myself time in the morning and not be rushed!

What do you typically have for breakfast?

I don’t eat breakfast. I generally follow a 16:8 fasting schedule so won’t eat from dinner to lunchtime. I find fasting helps me to feel focused, and have amazing mental clarity in the morning which is when I do most of my big pieces of work.

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

I’m always experimenting with my morning routine. If I’m being good, I’ll exercise and meditate. If I’m being bad, I’ll be on email from 7am…! I’m trying to be better as I get older, I find having a calm morning usually leads to more productive and happier days at work, so I’m focused on keeping my early morning sacred from work at the moment.

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

I’ve now blocked out the early morning for focused desk time. This allows me to run through my priorities for the day. I am a massive fan of to-do lists and usually review my notes and previous days to-do list each morning. The process of re-writing the list helps me focus and helps me to capture everything going on in my head on one piece of paper. This gives me stillness and clarity.

How do you prioritise your days work?

Moving to the US and having a busy UK team, means I’ve had to adjust my daily schedule now to ensure I give the UK what they need in the morning US time before they finish for the day. When I first moved, I was too focus on responding to everything that had come in over-night, but now I try and use the first part of the day to focus on the big things (eating the frogs) and then I’ll move on to whatever has come in over-night.

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

I do. They’re important to keep team alignment. We have team in multiple time-zones and geographical locations. We have been guilty of too many meetings in the past, so I prefer to try and keep things simple and minimal where we can. In a perfect world, I’d save all meetings to the afternoon, but with the UK team in an earlier time-zone, we often have video meetings in the morning.

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

I used to be really bad, but now I’ve blocked out ‘lunch’ as a meeting in my calendar. I don’t always use the full allotted time and some days are busy and lunch can happen at 3pm…but I’ve found having it blocked in, keeps it from being interrupted and gives me a pre-allocated pause in the day.

When does your workday finish?

Work never really finishes, my brain is pretty much on 24/7 (something else I’m working on), but being most effective in the morning, means I don’t like working late evenings that often. I’ll try and leave the office by 7pm.

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

My team laughs at me, but I’m a big note pad person. I’ve tried using lots of digital tools, but using pen and paper has always been the best way for me to process my thoughts. I’ll review my to-do list before I go, organise my notes and know that the next day I’ll be re-writing this list.  Often I find that re-reading these lists allows your subconscious to work on things whilst you’re not working, and often ‘dots join’ when I’m out of the office, in the shower, or meeting other founders.

How do you switch off?

I’m not the best at switching off but I love spending time with friends, exploring new bars and restaurants and travelling to new places. These experiences stimulate me in a way that distracts me from the day-day. I have varied interests and read a lot of different publications, and find that this gives me a bundle of inspiration.

Best piece of advice you received?

For me, the best piece of advice has been ‘you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with’. I’ve always recognised this and realised that bringing in positive influences around you and people who push you to be a better person and achieve your goals, lifts you up and hopefully you can lift those up around you too.

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