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 – Jacob Hill – founder of ex-offender employment specialist, Offploy about his working day.
What time do you usually wake up?
My alarm is set for 7.30 am, but now that the brighter mornings are here I tend to wake up a little earlier and, if I’m feeling particularly motivated, perhaps walk the dog a little earlier and for a little longer than usual.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
It all depends on the season really – I’ve recently entered the ‘granola with vanilla yoghurt and blueberries’ phase that accompanies lighter mornings and promises of sunshine. Sometimes, in the depths of winter, you need to revert to a huge bowl of porridge or a wedge of toast buried in cheese.
What’s the rest of your morning routine before you start work?
Depending on when I get up, I’ll have a flick through my inbox and tackle any of the tough tasks on my ‘to-do’ list before the rest of the world starts work. Then I’ll take a break for breakfast and a shower before I start the day ‘properly’ at 9 am.
First thing you do at the start of a workday?
Someone once told me to ‘eat the frog’ – the thing on your to-do list that you have absolutely no motivation to do and that you’re most likely to procrastinate on – before anything else. It’s a mantra I’ve followed ever since.
I really like to use my mornings well – I know I operate at my peak until around 1pm. I tend to get all my ‘thinking’ done first thing and save the ‘nicer’ conversations and tasks until the afternoon.
How do you prioritise your work?
I use Stephen Covey’s ‘Time Management Matrix’, which forces you to arrange tasks by their importance and urgency. It has never failed me!
Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?
A meeting without an agenda is a complete waste of time. That said, I see the importance of structured and productive meetings, of course. I do actively try to reduce the amount I have – or the length of each. For example, they shouldn’t last for an hour simply because that’s what you’ve always done – if you can cover everything you need to in seven minutes, so be it.
I haven’t taken on any ad-hoc meetings for years because I like my days to be organised and scheduled, without things coming in at the last minute.
Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?
I eat lunch at my desk, but I do take a purposeful break in the middle of the day – and one which doesn’t involve eating. Instead, I’ll go for a walk outside, rather than sitting at the kitchen table and scrolling through social media or watching TV. I genuinely think it’s important to switch off completely for a little bit.
When does your working day finish?
If I’m working at 8 pm it’s on something urgent, but on a regular day, I aim for a 4 pm finish – and I don’t think about work until I get out of bed the next day.
How do you prepare for your next day’s work?
I love a to-do list – and post-it notes! Before I log off, I’ll detail my outstanding tasks for the days ahead on a variety of sticky notes and arrange them on my desk in order of urgency/importance. It’s very cathartic to scrunch up a piece of paper when I’ve completed a job.
I also use Asana – which is essentially a desktop post-it pad – and that has the same effect, complete with flying unicorns!
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
I was thinking about this only the other day! It has to be Calendly – the meeting/appointment scheduling software. It helps you to pick your preferred length and time for third-party conversations and gives the other person the freedom to schedule meetings without back-and-forth emails.
How do you switch off?
Making a ‘to-do’ list – so I know everything I need to action is written down – and then forgetting about this unless I’m in ‘work mode’. I love walking and being outdoors, but I also enjoy playing strategic computer games too – or spending a couple of hours catching up on Netflix.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Nigel Stabler – my professional mentor and the person who invested in Offploy when I had just left prison – told me: “There’s no work-life balance, there’s just life.” It’s so true.