I am often asked about my daily schedule; how I get so much done, stay on top of emails and so on. Whilst every day is different, and I’ll often find myself travelling or attending meetings, I thought I might share how my “normal” working day goes and how I have strategies that allow me to cope with quite a considerable workflow (a lot of which I self create through endless interests, as well as because I am often in places where I like to offer help and follow through with it).
I am a firm believer that if you start your day well, the rest will follow. If you start the day by falling out of bed after snoozing your alarm six times, rush to get out of the door late and arrive at work (or worse, a meeting) flustered and unprepared, it’s a safe bet the rest of your day will not go well. On the other hand, getting up early, organising yourself and your day can help to make sure even the most busy day runs smoothly. Getting ahead of the game, being at the start of the race, driven by wanting to win; these are all things in my mindset which have set a lifetime belief that the early bird catches the worm.
My daily routine has been well tested and tweaked over the years so that now I believe my day moves in the best possible way, setting me up for success from the moment I wake. I share it with you here not so that you can do exactly as I do, but so that you can perhaps go away and engineer your own daily routine and achieve more with your day.
- My internal alarm usually goes off at 6.10am and the first thing I do is put the radio on. I like to hear the news, particularly any financial events. I either get my running kit on and go and exercise or shower and check my email. If I choose to do a bit of work before a run, I aim to get two frogs out of my inbox before I do anything else – this means I’ve started my day as I mean to continue. I like to start the day by giving someone a proposal I believe they should buy. In that way I am always building on something.
- I try to exercise each day, whether I am at home or not – I find that there is usually something I can do to get the blood pumping, even if it’s just a short run through the streets of whichever city I find myself in.This is an important element in my day, and I really believe exercising in the morning is the best way to get going. Now, having looked after my health and already tended to my business in one way or another with the email, I know my day is already a success.
- For breakfast I usually eat granola, with greek yogurt and fresh berries. I am borningly consistent in my food and drink choices. If I’m at home this is my opportunity to check in with my family and be present with them. My children are teenagers now so we’re all usually heading off in different directions but it’s important for us all to maintain that connection where we can.
- When I begin my working day, it is usually with anything on my to-do list surrounding sales pitches or innovation. Over the years I have learned that I am better able to write and be creative earlier in the day, so I ensure I get these things done first. This also allows me to get ahead so that my sales or admin staff can proofread my writing. I know this is always best done by someone other than me, and I think this is true for even the best writers.
- Once I’ve got the writing out of the way, I check my diary for key calls and appointments the following day. I always aim to prepare an outline meeting plan and make notes in advance, and if it’s a face to face meeting I also ensure I have samples ready to go.
- Now that I know I am prepared for any upcoming calls or meetings, I go into my email. Other than clearing those two frogs first thing, I make a point of not going into my email until I know I have done the work that needs to be done first. I go through and clear down my email as much as possible, but I try to avoid getting bogged down in what comes in. Like most people, I receive hundreds of emails every day and it would be very easy to end up with email reading becoming my full time (and probably quite fruitless) occupation. I try to get through them as quickly as possible and to clear my inbox down so that it doesn’t look overwhelming the next time I open it.
- After emails, I crack on with anything else I need to do; if I need to make calls I do it as early as possible, but I keep a record of each time I try so that I know not to try at the same time of day for each attempt. If my call is unsuccessful I always aim to leave a friendly, engaging and perhaps entertaining message – I never call without leaving a voicemail or a message. If I’m having trouble getting through to someone I may consider touching base with them in another way, for example posting them some samples or even sending a card through the post. Never underestimate the power of good old Royal Mail; in a world where the majority of our post is bills and official documents, you have the opportunity to make a great impression on someone by sending something that will brighten their day.
- At lunchtime I take a quick dip into my emails again and make sure there is nothing urgent. I tend not to react or respond to much; I’m aiming only to keep the barrage at bay! I check for priorities and any responses I am keen to see or issues I am keen to move forward but again – I always aim to avoid becoming bogged down in my emails. Sometimes I walk between meetings so instead of being below ground I can do calls and stay fit. I am rubbish at standing still. Rarely do I stop much for lunch; I have some soup and move on.
- Sometimes I make a timed effort to be in a place at a time when spending afew downtime minutes and perhaps sharing lunch can have good outcomes. I aim always to be accessible to my team and to work my hardest to support all their requests and communications quickly. I serve them so that they are able to serve the customer brilliantly.
- My afternoons are usually spent either in face to face meetings or online via Skype or Zoom. I will always prefer face to face as I feel you get a better connection and it’s easier to judge how things are going – but sometimes we have to settle for talking in other ways. Of course, a video call is better than a phone call which should really be a last resort in these things. The other day I did a whole hour on mute in a USA confernce room and what they don’t know is I started at my flat, went and bought a coffee, had my legs waxed and was on the call the whole time until I got back to my flat. It was a 55-minute round trip and I felt better for it too. I multitask on things like this wherever I can.
- I rarely leave work without taking care of at least one other major priority, or planning (making brief notes to collect good thoughts) to make progress on something. I aim always to leave my desk with a clear head, satisfied that I have ticked at least one major thing off my to-do list, and that I have prepared everything for the following day. This is especially important on a Friday, as if one is to truly relax and switch off at the weekend you must have reset priorities and planned the order of the next events ready for when you next switch back on.
- I never, ever close my notebook without a sense check of my ongoing to-do list, ensuring I am satisfied that the book can be closed without that nagging feeling of an incomplete job. I childishly still strike through things and like different colours for importance ranking. I am on the train right now finishing this note and feeling slightly jubilant as I have achieved more tonight than I planned, – a pathetic last positive thought before I close!
How does this match up against your daily work routine? If I’ve inspired you to change your routine do leave a comment and let me know what’s different.