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My Working Day – Sophie Meislin Baron – Founder of Mamamade

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 Sophie Meislin Baron – Founder of Mamamade about her working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

Around 6am – and usually with at least one child in the bed next to me!

What do you typically have for breakfast?

Since having my second baby I’ve gotten into intermittent fasting – so I don’t usually eat anything until about 11am. I’ll have black coffee or earl grey tea in the morning – and lots of it! On days when I do feel like breakfast, I’ll have some rye sourdough crackers and hummus.

What is the rest of your morning routine?

My mornings are really dedicated to spending time with my two kids. There are backpacks and snacks to pack, breakfast to make, clothes to find, teeth to brush…and I tend to leave my phone upstairs, so I can just be present with them. I always say that looking after small children is a sort of mindfulness practice. Their needs are so simple – they just want love and attention. You have no choice but to be in the moment with them. It’s hectic, but also nice to have the time with them.

It’s been a real process for me to find the right balance between running a business and having a family. Being strict with my time and where my focus goes has been key to finding a manageable mental load.

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

I spend the first 30 minutes or so just clearing my inbox and reviewing my to-do list, then checking in with the team on their projects and priorities.

I like to think of my day starting the night before – I always take time in the evening to plan out my next day, so by the time I’ve done the school run and am back at my desk, I’m focused and know what the day has in store.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I plan for the week rather than day-by-day – so I know which days I’ll be in-person with the team, which days I’ll be on site in the kitchen, and which days I can devote entirely to focusing on ongoing projects and to moving the business forward. I schedule in absolutely everything – my diary is full. It’s the only way I can manage both a family and a business.

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

Our team is mostly remote and living across the UK. It’s a real privilege to own a business and provide employment for people – I don’t take that lightly. So it’s been really important to me that as we grow, we hire for talent and not location.

There’s no way to have a truly diverse team if we’re only hiring people who can afford to live in London. As a result, we’ve got a brilliant team of people who may have otherwise had to compromise on their careers, or for one reason or another opt-out. Online and daily meetings are the best way to make our crew feel like a real team – to the extent that we didn’t even realise some people had never met in real life!

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

I have to confess I don’t often take a break in the day, because my hours are quite condensed as it is. I’ll do more of the ‘lighter’ work while on lunch – like creating content for Instagram or LinkedIn, replying to emails, auditing my diary for the next few days – things that don’t take as much concentration but that I try to avoid doing when my children are home.

When does your working day finish?

I’ll usually sign off for a bit around 3 or 4pm to do the school run and spend time with my kids. I’m not completely switched-off work, but I usually don’t schedule any meetings for this time. I’ll then pick up a bit after bedtime for an hour, and call it a night around 8pm. At Mamamade we really endeavour to embody this spirit of flexibility – nobody is expected to work 9-5, but we do expect everyone to be forthcoming about the hours they are available. And to understand that an email sent at 11pm doesn’t necessarily require a response at 11pm. Everyone is entitled to their private life, and whilst we expect a certain level of responsiveness during traditional working hours, we focus on output and results rather than hours worked.

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

I need to spend time each evening reviewing my diary for the next day. Doing an audit of the next day and then the days after that – and aligning with my partner Ian, who is my partner in life and in business! – helps us to stay organised and focused. There’s a lot of juggling going on with 2 kids and a business, so we need to align our diaries in order to keep all the balls up in the air.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

I love Slack. It’s really the Mamamade HQ – lots of various rooms and discussions, and it’s how we keep freelancers and agencies looped in. It’s what allows our remote team to function as a complete unit. It’s amazing.

How do you switch off?

I’m pretty strict about no work after 8pm. Being present with my children when they’re home – bath, books, bed – and being a part of their winding down also helps me to clear my head after a long day.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Self-care isn’t selfish. As a mother and business-owner, it’s really hard to put myself first. I often find myself falling into a ‘martyr trap,’ where I go and go until I’m running on empty. We’ve discussed parental burnout loads with our community – it’s a real thing, even if not always been called that. and the general consensus is that self-care isn’t selfish. Our children need us, as parents, to be well. I remind myself of this often!