A day in the life of: "I try to plan late afternoon meetings where I can to mix my day up, so I’m not on my laptop most of the day!"

A Day in the Life Of
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We're always curious to hear how our members and contributors tackle the challenges that the ever-changing world of HR throws at them. We've got a wealth of experience and knowledge across the site, and what better way to showcase the diversity of our community than to get them to walk us through an average day?

Want to tell us about your way of working? Email us at [email protected], or let us know in the comments below.

Answers today are from Laura Haynes, currently HR Director at a Blenheim Chalcot backed FinTech company and owner at HR consultancy and services provider FreshHR.

07:00 - I wake up, check my messages, go for a run with my puppy, get ready and head to the office - listening to funny podcasts on the way, in all - I try to do all I can to get energised without relying on caffeine! In the past, in my investment banking days, I felt like I became reliant on it and I’d have a terrible crash midday if I didn’t keep getting more so I try to find other ways now.
 
09:00 - I’m currently working on-site for a venture capital client supporting a growing FinTech start-up with their HR strategy. The focus is predominantly on reviewing their structures, talent, hiring needs so that they can scale quickly and also introducing structure where it’s relevant ie. performance frameworks, cultural frameworks. My day starts with catching up on emails and typically, because start-ups move so fast every day, we have a team meeting or stand-up.
 
11:00 - I’m usually in the thick of “getting things done” and at my most energised so I try to schedule work at this time that’s a little more detailed or challenging - work that at 5pm I’d probably struggle with! I have a quick break to catch up on Whatsapp with my friends, get fresh air then keep going.
 
13:00 - Around lunch-time for me, I take the time to catch up on my personal business affairs in this time to compartmentalise a little - new client leads, networking, my accounting, checking in with any interns or work experience students supporting me etc. I usually aim to do my expenses at this time but often end up doing them on Sunday nights in front of the TV as other matters get in the way! I head away from the office for lunch, I try not to eat at my desk as the change in environment really breaks up the day.
 
15:00 - Back at work! I try to plan late afternoon meetings where I can to mix my day up, keep myself moving around, so I’m not on my laptop most of the day! People in HR can spend so much time at their computer as is the case for others that work in offices and I’ve felt the impact on my posture in the past! I arrange “walk and talk” meetings where possible to move around and get some air, and they’re useful for HR in my view - as long as the weather outside is nice - managers talk more freely taken out of the work environment and far away from their laptops and phones - I find this works especially well when you’re providing advice or offering some coaching support.
 
17:00 - I usually start checking my to-do list and priorities before thinking about departing the office. Preparing my to-do list for the next day helps me feel I can fully switch off before the next day as I have an idea of what to expect. My puppy helps my work-life balance as I must leave before around 6pm - this encourages me to be effective with the time I have in the office. I catch up on the news on the train usually but today I have a speaker engagement at a conference approaching so I prepare for that instead
 
19:00 - I take some time to relax at home and catch up with friends before either heading out to socialise or having a chilled night! I usually alternate between both on different weeknights so I get “me” time and can hate-watch the Apprentice or get totally absorbed in Bake Off before I hear about them from others! I’m a terrible cook so if I’m at home I usually order some sushi to prevent a house fire. During this time I try to switch off from emails etc completely, sometimes I find that in doing so I get good ideas and inspiration that I can apply in my work that don’t come when I’m in action mode so I’ll jot them down or email them to myself.
 
21:00 - If I’m not out, I take a long walk before sleep around the local area in Angel and will sometimes call my family or friends at the same time for a natter and catch up. Alternatively, if the weather is bad, I’ll do some yoga before bed to get totally relaxed!
 
22:00 - I’ll either be heading home in a taxi or getting ready for bed - I love my sleep so I usually get myself in bed as early as I can and read a book - I try to keep technology far away from this time, my phone, laptop etc as I find it makes me too alert to get some good sleep. While I love a business book I usually go for fiction and a bit of escapism late at night.
 
23:00 - Time to set my alarm - I have one that gradually lights up to recreate a sunrise in my room and couldn’t live without it because it feels like you wake up naturally as opposed to suddenly hearing the start noise of an alarm, and that means I’m less likely to hit snooze too. Having a similar routine also helps me a huge deal so I really try to not have many late nights in the week.

Now, tell us…

What would you say are your main passions or things you champion at work?

I’m passionate about people - whether they’re employees, customers, candidates - and seek to challenge and influence clients wherever possible to always improve.

I also believe we should, wherever possible, be true to our whole selves at work and build relationships with others that go beyond a shallow “work personality” to foster better relationships, to identify the best ways to engage others and get great results.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I fundamentally like helping businesses/people or improving things and being able to show the difference I’m making, I’m very purpose-led so seeing progress or hearing feedback drives me on.

What keeps you up at night?

Anything “un-finished” irks me, I like to finish my day closing off as much as I can (or making people aware that I haven’t). When I’m not working I do all I can to fully not be because I’ve found that being “always on” with no clear differentiation makes my life stressful.

One tip you’d pass on to your peers?

Know what you do well and what you love - be brave in going for it. I launched my business after years of telling people I wanted to do it because I knew it would motivate and stretch me. The only thing that stopped me, when I really challenged myself, was fear and uncertainty which can be addressed with a good plan although obviously you need to embrace some risk!

Assume you couldn't do your current career, even if you love it. What would be your ideal job? Why?

That would devastate me! I’d still want my own business. If it couldn’t be HR perhaps the legal industry as I have a curious mind and love being able to make a difference in a people-related capacity, in a challenging and competitive sector.

Who's your hero and why?

I try to do the best I can do rather than looking to others for inspiration. Lately, I’ve been finding myself in awe of Ava DuVerrnay (Film Director) for working on her own terms and for her courage.

You can have five people from history at your dinner party. Who would you invite and why?

Achilles, Van Gogh, Julius Caesar, John Lennon, the Dalai Lama and I’d pester you for a 6th who’d be a translator and chef (I want to be chatting, not cooking - plus they wouldn’t want to eat my cooking anyway!)

About Jamie Lawrence

Jamie Lawrence, HRZone

Jamie Lawrence is editor of global online HR publication and community HRZone.com. He is committed to driving forward the HR agenda and making sure that HR directors have the knowledge and insight necessary to make HR felt across the whole organisation. He regularly speaks to audiences of 250+ and has interviewed key HR industry names, including Daniel H. Pink. He has worked previously as a small business journalist and a copywriter and has published non-fiction that reached #2 on the NYT Children's Bestseller List. In his spare time Jamie likes writing fiction, films, fitness and eating out.

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