My Working Day – Valentin Hinov – CEO and Founder of Thankbox

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 Valentin Hinov, CEO and Founder of Thankbox, about his working day.

What time do you wake up?

I usually wake up at 6 am. I am in charge of my daughter’s morning school run at 7:30, so I typically want to have some time for myself before waking her up to get her ready. It gives me a chance to read a bit as well as do my 10-minute meditation.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

I typically have a green smoothie and a decaf coffee for breakfast. My wife got me into smoothies ages ago and we love experimenting with different flavours every week. They’re always super tasty. I also switched to decaf coffee in the last few months to help reduce my overall anxiety and even out my energy levels throughout the day.

What is the rest of your morning routine?

After dropping my daughter off at school, I spend 10 minutes journaling on the previous day and writing down a few notes about what I want from the day ahead. I try to start my day’s work by 8 am since I am most productive in the mornings. It’s usually when I handle my toughest tasks.

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

I take a look at my calendar, take note of my available (meeting-free) time and jot down my to-do list on a post-it note based on that.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I’ve found the best way to keep me focused is to have a post-it note with up to eight tasks for the day on it. This both forces me to not over-commit but also to break down big tasks into manageable bites so that I can complete them within the scope of a day. I’ve also recently started using llamalife.co to help me set dedicated time chunks for each task. I do quite enjoy the little confetti I get from it when I complete a task in time or early.

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

My team is fully remote and we try to have as few meetings as possible. It’s my job to make sure everyone knows the direction we need to go to and what is required of them and then I try not to get in their way when they do it. We use chat over the day with no expectation for immediate replies. We would then have a meeting maybe once every two or three weeks for more in-depth discussions or planning.

More recently, with the launch of our latest campaign – a public birthday card for David Attenborough – we’ve had more calls to touch base since it’s the first time we’ve done something like it.

Do you have a working lunch or do you take a break?

I always take at least a 30-45 minute break. I typically go for a short run at 11:30 and have my lunch at 12. I find that a run is a great way to break up my day – it lets my mind relax a bit (and it’s a great time to catch up on podcasts!) – which helps me approach the second half of my day feeling refreshed.

When does your working day finish?

My working day typically finishes between 4 and 5 pm. I’ve had periods of burnout in my past and I’ve learned to value and protect my downtime. I’m also usually in charge of making dinner and it’s a great way to let go of the day in order to be more present with my family.

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

I usually have a plan for the week ahead set out in my head so when a day finishes, I try not to think or actively plan the next one. I’d rather let go of work for the evening in order to let my mind rest.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

Most recently it’d be my Bose NC 700 noise-cancelling headphones. Both my wife and I work from home in the same office and she has way more meetings than I do. With the Bose headphones, I can just put on some music or white noise and stay totally focused throughout the day regardless of the noise level.

How do you switch off?

The best way to transition away from work is to have an activity you do at the end that you associate with closing off your workday. For me that’s cooking dinner – it’s 30 minutes during which I can listen to music or a podcast and take my mind off the day.

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

“If you’re not having fun then what are you doing?”. This is a rule I have and one I often need to remind myself of. As an entrepreneur, you have ambitions and plans and can often feel let down when they don’t quite work. So, if you don’t enjoy doing what you’re doing – if you don’t find happiness working on your business – then you won’t last. You need intrinsic motivation to keep you going – it’s the only thing that lasts in the long term.

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