Hailed as one of the most creative people in business today, technology and trust expert Rachel Botsman is a lecturer at Oxford University and the author of bestselling books Who Can You Trust? and What’s Mine is Yours.
Here she reveals six habits that are helping her balance work and life:
On starting the workday…
How you start is really key to the rest of the day. An easy trick I learned is, if you’re in flow the day before, don’t finish the paragraph. Then it’s really easy to pick up; days where you’ve completed something, and you’re starting again, are harder because you’re starting the engine from scratch.
On using her mobile phone as an alarm clock…
I can’t believe my phone was my alarm. It’s such a stupid thing to do. It’s like waking up and having a can of Coke there; there’s no way I could resist the temptation. I thought I was being super-efficient, because if I set my alarm for 6.15 – my kids typically wake up at 6.45 – I could do half an hour of emails in bed. But this is not how human beings are meant to wake up.
Every morning, when my feet touch the ground, I ask myself, “Why am I doing this? What am I grateful for? What do I want to achieve today?” That’s my one-minute mindfulness. And you come back to the end of the day and you think, “Did I do that? Did I achieve that? How off balance was I?” For me, it’s been a form of self-reflection. If you keep missing it, there’s probably something physical or time-based that you have to address. Maybe you don’t have enough support or maybe you’re eating wrong; whatever it is, there’s something structurally you can probably change.
On switching into concentration mode…
How you switch from the chaos of mornings into concentration mode is really important. Maybe it’s because I’m British, but the process of making tea properly in a tea pot and sitting down and drinking it is great. And then I always try and read something that is not mine that I think is brilliant. It quietens you down, especially if it’s been a racy morning or something has happened that you can’t control. And so, really, what you’re doing is controlling your state, because anything can happen on the way to work or while dropping off the kids.
On being a working-mum…
I have found consistency to be really important. Knowing when I can pick my kids up from school is a big one. And 5pm to 7pm is their time. It’s an obvious thing, but being present when you’re really present is key. I think the one thing I’ve really got right is I’m very protective of my weekends. I try not to work on the weekends and my kids know that I’m always there. And then getting really smart around where you need support and not feeling guilty about that. It’s so easy to say but it’s really hard to do.
On learning to say “no” more…
It’s one of the goals I’ve been working on this year. I’m finding myself less in situations where I’m like, “Why did I say yes?” When there’s an email asking to “pick my brain”, or if it’s really, really long, I tend to say no. I always try to direct people to a resource. I always try to close the loop and be helpful. You also get a sense when someone’s quite hard to shut down and then being more comfortable that you don’t have to reply. But the thing that I’ve really started to ask myself is “What are the intentions of this person? Why are they asking me to write this piece? Why are they asking me to do this interview?” And if there’s an alignment – so you really believe in what this person is doing and you think it’s good for your work and you think it’s interesting – then you consider it.
This interview is an extract of Amantha’s full interview with Rachel Botsman on How I Work.