Business Leader: My working day, Lorna Stellakis

Recently, our operational development director, Lorna Stellakis took part in Business Leader’s My Working Day Q&A. Lorna revealed what time she wakes up on a morning, the best way to prioritise a day’s work and the best piece of advice she’s ever received. If you missed the article you can catch up on it below…

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?

What time do you usually wake up?  

2am… 4am…. Currently, I’ve lost the ability to sleep for longer than two-hour stints, but I’m usually out of bed by 6am at the latest.

What do you typically have for breakfast? 

Eggs, every day. Different variations depending on my mood and usually with something added such as ham, bacon or chorizo and some tomatoes.

What is the rest of your morning routine before you start work?  

Usually just getting ready to head into the office while listening to a podcast. I really enjoy the TED Talks series and have found they make a real difference to how I feel in the morning.

I make tea and toast for my husband Andrew if he’s at home, as well as lunch and a coffee to-go for myself. If there’s time the dog gets a decent walk, but if not, he gets dropped off with my parents, so they can do the honours. He’s not a morning dog, so I often have to drag him out of bed when it’s time to leave.

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

When I arrive in the office, I check the helpdesk statistics to see which customers have outstanding issues and speak to the team to understand what their priorities are for the day – making sure the two marry up! After that, I run-through my own to-do list and decide on the day’s most pressing tasks.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I absolutely love Microsoft Excel, so my to-do list is on a spreadsheet, with columns separating the various components involved in each job’s completion. It features all my regular tasks, plus one-off items and meetings – I’d be lost without it!

I also have focus weeks – which cover finance and forecasting, people, marketing and customers – in a monthly rotation. All very organised, but with enough planned space for chaos, as IT support can never really be predictable.

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

We’re a small team so we plan brief, regular meetings that include all staff members. We have longer ‘out-of-hours’ meetings that are more relaxed, and we use this time to bounce ideas around.  We also use a concept called ‘destination verbs’ – this ensures there are always decisions made and actions planned, rather just lots of talk.

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

I eat at my desk but I usually take a 20-minute break for a walk if it isn’t raining – just to get my steps up more than anything else.  These walks often turn into an on-the-move meeting with a member of the team, as I find you can have better conversations when you’re moving around.

When does your working day finish?

No set time, but in my head, I aim to leave the office at 4pm so that my dog gets a good walk before dinner.

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

Before I leave the office, I always take five minutes to reflect, plan and rearrange my to-do list depending on what I’ve actioned – or what’s come up – during the day.

Favourite piece of technology?

It has to be my iPhone! I’m tracking my screen time at the moment and trying to limit myself to productivity-type apps but Instagram is often too shiny to resist!

How do you switch off?

I walk a lot. It’s usually just me and the dog during the week, but we enjoy longer walks at the weekend with my husband as well – that really helps clear my head.  Otherwise, I’ll often be found watching TV or scrolling through Instagram. However, if I am really wound up about something, the house gets a thorough clean!

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

I can’t remember where I read this, but the advice was to replace the words “I can’t” with “I don’t”.  Try it with anything you’re struggling to change in your life – the psychological shift can be enlightening!  For example, “I can’t commit to exercising regularly because XYZ” feels very different if you say, “I don’t commit to exercising regularly because XYZ.”

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