Q: What’s something you do to help boost your productivity?
A: Setting self-imposed deadlines — I set myself an action list every day, I tend to always do the easy ones first! I try to clear the easy ones so that I can put aside focus time to really finalise the more complex or time consuming ones.
We use Slack as a communication tool in the company and I find it really helps move things along much quicker than emails; often, some quick wins can be done in a short series of informal messages.
As my role is one that sits in the middle of all departments, I’m the contact for 30+ people with many different queries, and the various questions can be triggered at different times throughout the day/week/month depending on what’s going on.
I’ve found that blocking some focus time and muting notifications in one hour slots have been really helpful for me during work hours.
I regularly receive new, smaller tasks throughout my day, and found that clearly visualizing three goals keeps me focused and able to tackle smaller tasks toward the end of the day.
Q: How do you find work life balance?
A: I work hard to play hard and I’m fairly good with boundaries. I accepted my role at Cloudsmith knowing it wasn’t a 9-5 role and I’m perfectly fine with that.
In 2021, we decided to make Cloudsmith a remote-first company and it was important that we understood what that meant in terms of our expectations as employer and employee.
Since the pandemic, we live in a whole new world with an evolved working culture that can have many assumptions — one being that you’re always at your desk waiting on calls, emails and messages that require an immediate response.
We introduced a Family Friendly Flexible Working policy and as such, we don’t have set lunch or break times; it makes running an errand, doing a school run, or walking the dog easier to manage.
I don’t mind answering a message or email in the evenings or weekends, especially if it’s knowledge I have on hand, or if it allows a process to move forward quickly.
Both my partner and I have high-pressure roles, so we understand one another if we need to do extra hours. We balance that understanding with treating ourselves to meals out and holidays when we can, and at those times, we switch off entirely.
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received so far?
A: I adore reading inspiring quotes. I find meaning in them to fit how I feel or what I need to get out of them. Sometimes clichés become clichés because they express important truths.
Turns out this is a famous quote by Wilson Mizner, but I remember an old boss using it, and I thought it was very appropriate: “Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you will meet them on the way down.”
And my personal favourites that are on my wall:
- “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs
- Reiterated by The Godfather — “It’s not personal–it’s strictly business”
Q: What’s your favorite software or app that helps with your workflow?
A: We’re pretty tool heavy at Cloudsmith — I don’t exaggerate that!
We’re fully cloud based so there are many; ironically, I still use a pen and paper list every morning of “things I’d like to have done by lunchtime” and “things I’d like to have achieved by the end of the day”.
I’m a visual learner/worker so if I keep seeing it, it’ll remind me of my daily priorities, so I also give them all slots in my Google Calendar and the main planning tool I use is Asana — I get such nerdy satisfaction in ticking off a list!
Q: What’s a book or podcast you’d recommend to a colleague?
A: My favourites will always be motivational, mindset and education focused, and usually include or are inspired by leaders. I adore Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Podcast and Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO. Or a bit of fun fact-ing with Jonathan Van Ness in Getting Curious.
A local photographer from Northern Ireland, Lauren Chambers, has an awesome podcast, The Life From Lit, based on honest conversations about life as a woman in modern times — she covers Mum Life, Wife Life, Boss Lady — it’s real, emotive and inspiring.