My Working Day – Petra Smith – Founder of Squirrels and Bears
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 Petra Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Squirrels and Bears, about her working day.
What time do you wake up?
I’m an early riser. I’m normally up between 5am and 6am.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
I like my cup of black coffee first thing in the morning, followed by a toast– I’m from Slovakia and I like my continental breakfast with cheese and salad!
What is the rest of your morning routine?
I start my working day early, straight after I wake up as I find this quiet time the most productive part of my day.
When my children wake up around 7am, we have breakfast together and I get them ready for school, and I’m usually set for my day by the time my husband takes them to school.
What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?
I check my calendar, my emails and our team’s project management tool to get a good idea about what my day will look like. I draft my most urgent emails first thing and schedule them to be sent during office hours to respect people’s work-life boundaries. I then prioritise the most pressing tasks for the morning and ensure the team is up to date on their tasks and clear on deadlines and expectations.
How do you prioritise your day’s work?
I prioritise my work based on urgency and importance but will always re-prioritise if any of my colleagues or clients want an unplanned chat. I try to be as flexible as possible to address and day-to-day requests and questions.
Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?
I plan all my meetings, both internally and externally. I find them very important to stay on the same page and manage expectations, but of course, there is the occasional client meeting that could have been an email.
Do you have a working lunch or do you take a break?
I’m not very disciplined with taking breaks and I usually eat my lunch whilst working. But whenever my colleagues are in the office, we do a long team lunch to switch off from work and spend some time together.
When does your working day finish?
I shut my computer at school pick-up time. I still check my emails and deal with any urgent requests but try not to work once my children are home from school. There is of course the occasional evening and weekend catch-up, but I’m trying to prioritise my family outside of working hours.
How do you prepare for the next day’s work?
I check my calendar so I can plan logistics and I prepare for any morning meetings. I usually do my prep for the week on Sunday evening, rather than for the day ahead – it makes me feel more in control and I can work around my commitments accordingly, even if there are any last-minute changes throughout the week.
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
My iPad – I use it to read the digital edition of The Times every day and for my Kindle books. From online tools, I love Asana for managing projects, Slack for team communication and Spotify to add music to my day.
How do you switch off?
On my own by playing piano and working out, but I equally find it very energising to spend quality time with my family and friends. I’m also a keen wine and food enthusiast.