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 Martin O’Rourke – Commercial Director at Birchwood Park about his working day.
What time do you usually wake up?
I wake up early even at weekends normally around 5.30am. Much to my wife’s annoyance I am a ‘morning’ person. I like to have a gentle start to the day to give me time to think and catch up on the news and sports headlines.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
I usually go for a big bowl of porridge – it’s the best way the right way to start the working day in my opinion!
What is the rest of your morning routine before you start work?
Once I’m up and ready to go, I have a 30-minute drive to work and get to work before 7 so I can go to our on-site gym (to fight a failing battle to keep fit!). Working out in the morning, I find, really helps to set you up for the day mentally – I have a lot more energy following a morning workout session, plus if I leave it to lunchtime I am more likely to get distracted by work and find an excuse not to go! After work all I want to do is go home.
What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?
Have a cup of tea! You can’t beat a good cuppa – I take mine black, and I’m cutting back on caffeine so I always go for de-caff.
How do you prioritise your day’s work?
I’ve always worked on the basis that you deal with what’s in front of you right there and then, it’s far easier to clear things up as you never know what’s around the corner! Procrastination is the enemy of good business and hard-work – yes, we all get presented with those tasks which are less than favourable, but it can almost be guaranteed that if you delay something, that something more urgent will crop up, meaning you fall behind on your original tasks.
Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?
Meetings are essential to getting business done, some things are best dealt with in person rather than over the phone or via email, but they can easily be a waste of time if there’s no objectives set. There needs to be an agenda – no agenda, no meeting in my books!
Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?
In theory we should all take a break from our desks and screens in the middle of the day, but life isn’t always so simple! Invariably I do end up having something at my desk around lunchtime, but it’s something I’m aiming to change – especially when we have such a great choice of street food options available at the EngineRooms (our on-site destination for all-day meeting, eating and working). I also, diary permitting, try to get along to some of the regular lunchtime yoga sessions on site. It’s a chance to switch off for half an hour.
Even just 10 minutes away from your desk during the day is important, which is something I like to encourage the team at Birchwood Park to try and do as well. I am always surprised at how a 10-minute break away and walk round re charges the batteries. As the Park is so big, with plenty of green space, there’s no excuse not to escape and get some fresh air and build up your daily steps. I always enjoy giving tours of the park to potential occupiers and visitors, going around chatting to some of the 120 or so staff we have on site to find out what’s going on, visiting occupiers and checking the progress on our various refurbishments and construction projects. It’s important to get around site to meet people as it is a great way to find out the ‘gossip’ and get a feel for what is happening on the ground.
When does your working day finish?
It never finishes! When you’re in the line of work I am, and have client and business demands to deal with at all hours of the day, it’s hard to switch off. Typically, I leave the office at around 6-630pm so as to avoid the traffic, and whilst I try to avoid responding to emails when at home in the evening I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, designs, and inspiration for things we can bring to the park whilst I’m watching TV or out and about.
How do you prepare for the next day’s work?
I always consult my diary to see what’s on the agenda for the next day – more to make the ‘suit, or no suit?’ decision than for any other reason (thankfully it’s usually the latter as we have a fairly informal dress code at the park)!
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
An old Nokia mobile – I know smart phones are now an essential business tool, but bear with me on this one! I can easily call people at the click of a button, I’m not afraid of dropping it on the floor as they’re pretty indestructible, and I’m sure the battery lasts forever. Essentially, I’m a fan of reliability and not too keen on unnecessary bells and whistles.
How do you switch off?
I enjoy my down time by heading into the great outdoors as much as possible, whether I’m attempting to play cricket during the summer or going on a good walk. Fresh air does wonders for you both physically and mentally.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve actually received two great pieces of advice; 1) Just get it done! Don’t procrastinate as you never know what is going to happen next and if you delay it’ll come back to bite you. 2) Treat everything as if it was your own money. When making a decision treat it as if it was your money at stake and more often than not, you’ll be making wiser business decisions as a result.