Connie Nam, founder & CEO, Astrid & Miyu
In 2012, Connie spied a gap in the market for unique and affordable jewellery – and Astrid & Miyu was born. Quickly building a loyal following among influencers and celebrities alike, the brand now has four stores across London and Manchester and recently expanded into the US.
“As the head of a brand like Astrid & Miyu – and with two toddlers – diary management and prioritisation are key to staying organised. I have an annual calendar of what I want to achieve, which is then broken down by week and on a quarterly basis. It’s all about setting targets for where and to what I want to dedicate my time. For instance, this quarter I’m aiming to spend 20% of my time on teambuilding, 30% on strategy, 30% on recruitment and 20% on external engagement. Daily, I block out chunks of time to ensure I have the space to think and strategise, so I’m not spreading myself too thin. Another key to staying organised is to have a great team and delegate as much as possible. At the weekend, I tend not to over-schedule things – I just want to relax and enjoy being with my children.”
Claire Warner, co-founder, Æcorn
Claire has spent her entire professional life in the beverages business. Less than three years ago, she co-founded Æcorn – the sister brand to Seedlip. Now, the company’s range of non-alcoholic aperitifs is one of the most recognisable in the country, and can be found at Lyaness, The American Bar at the Savoy and The Ledbury, as well as in many other bars and restaurants across central London.
“Æcorn has grown rapidly over the last 18 months, so being organised allows me to focus on what needs to get done, as well as reflect on what has gone right (or wrong). I love spontaneity, and routines can get boring, so I’ve found the following things allow me to feel a sense of freedom while actually getting stuff done. First, have a morning routine. I either get up and run, or walk the dog. Something that gets me up and out of the house first thing really boosts my mood and sets me up for a good day. Then, eat the frog i.e. stop procrastinating and start the day with the thing you want to do least. A scheduling app can also be really helpful – I love Cortana as it scans my emails and sends me a briefing ahead of each meeting. It also allows me to schedule focus time and breaks throughout the day. A golden rule? No back-to-back meetings – I try and keep 15-minute gaps between them to allow me to follow up on anything or get prepared for the next one. Weekly, there’s then the Friday download – I email myself every Friday with the things I want to focus on the following week. I also include a reminder of what went well, or what needs attention. This has been so helpful in allowing me to mentally switch off over the weekend.”
“My digital calendar is key: every event and deadline is inputted so I'm able to refer back to them, daily. On Sunday evening, I take some time to go over my schedule for the week ahead. I was given the most beautiful, engraved day-view Aspinal diary, and I’m enjoying writing down my appointments with a beautiful pen on fresh paper. It takes more time to sync it with my digital one, but I love taking the time. Being able to access my digital calendar on the move is essential and it's a vital communication tool for my team to know where I am if they need me. It also lets them know key projects I'm working on at any given time.”
“My life is run off a spreadsheet. The way I make it work is I put everything relating to family in the diary first. I have a column for Nick, my husband, a column for me, and a column for each of the children – six in total. Everything for work goes in next, then social life – although there are plenty of times when that goes on the back burner. The key to staying on top of things, generally, is surrounding yourself with the right people. The beauty of having your own business is that you can make things work around your life. If you need to leave for something in the middle of the day, you can, then you just pick it up later in the evening to make up the time. Staying organised also means you need to stay fit, eat well, get enough sleep, and learn how to manage stress. It’s crucial to look after yourself first to be able to hold everything – and everyone – together.”
“I’m a very good timekeeper, so it’s easy for me to stay organised if I stick to a very strict schedule. Over the past year, I’ve found Zoom makes it easier to have finite finish times for meetings. Even my morning exercise and an afternoon walk are scheduled into my WFH diary, and I don’t allow them to run over. As life has become more chaotic, I find this discipline has put some welcome structure into my life.”
Amy Christiansen, founder & CEO, Sana Jardin
Fragrance label Sana Jardin might be a relative newcomer in the world of beauty, but it is already stocked in 80 retailers, including Harrods, NET-A-PORTER, Liberty and Harvey Nichols. Prior to founding the business, Amy Christiansen spent 25 years in the non-profit sector in the US, Middle East and Europe.
“I always say women need an extra decade between the ages of 30 and 50 to do all the things we want to do – have a family, pursue a career, find a deeper purpose. Because we can’t drop the ball on anything – particularly if we’re trying to raise children – it’s imperative to be organised. For example, I have an Excel document that lists my sons’ meals for six weeks, so the food shopping is more efficient; all of my travel necessities are permanently in a suitcase; I try to have standing appointments, so I waste less time; and I put all information into my Microsoft Outlook calendar and contacts, as well as having a digital and hard copy filing system. I once had a professional organiser come to the house and she labelled everything, so now it’s just about maintenance. She also arranged my clothes by section, and I try to continuously get rid of things I don’t need. I always think about moving to a new house, and my motto is: if I don’t want to unpack it in the future, then don’t hold onto it.”
“As a creative person, being super organised doesn’t necessarily come with the territory! But over the years, as my business grew, I learned that if you give everything a home, things feel a bit less overwhelming. Whether that’s grouping your emails by subject, assigning time in your diary for certain projects so you know you have that time to work on them, or keeping weekly meetings that you never move, it helps to keep me feeling organised even when things get hectic. It’s also my mantra in my personal life. I’ve got a little area that’s dedicated to working out or meditating, and my jewellery collection has its own space, so it’s all there for me each morning as my ‘everyday armour’. For some reason, I still can’t get to grips with keeping my AirPods together – I’m always finding one next to my laptop or one in the kitchen, but you can’t be perfectly organised all the time, right?!”
Isabel Farchy, founder & CEO, Creative Mentor Network
Having started her career in teaching, Isabel Farchy launched the Creative Mentor Network in 2015. The organisation matches young people from a diverse range of backgrounds with mentors to help them maximise career opportunities in the creative industries.
“As the CEO of a charity who has just returned from maternity leave and is working part-time, it can be a struggle, but I have a few strategies I’m trying out to get used to the juggle. First, I try to be proactive with my time. I set a couple of goals for myself each week and prioritise them. Then, I set aside a chunk of time each day to go through my inbox and deal with anything urgent. I’m also learning to set clearer boundaries around my work. I block out time in my diary to work on specific tasks and I’m much more careful about accepting meetings I don’t think need to be meetings. It’s amazing how much more productive a voice-note conversation can be! As a founder, I used to spend all my time on work, and say yes to everything. That’s how I managed to build Creative Mentor Network, but as a new mother, I’ve come to accept that’s just not possible.”
“My system is chip based – think of it like a casino table. There are blue, red and white chips. Blue chips are most precious, red is somewhere in the middle and white chips are huge, but less valuable. I mentally categorise my to-do list into those categories. Blue chips are vital to my success as a mother, wife and business leader: making sure the kids have what they need; quality time with them and my husband; client review meetings; reading good books, etc. Red chips are important to get the blue chips done: writing articles; being active on LinkedIn; producing our podcast; reading school newsletters; following what our clients do; and hosting and attending networking events. White chips are like white noise, i.e. really time-consuming and annoying. Luckily, these can usually be delegated: scheduling appointments; research; posting on social media; ordering uniforms; booking holidays; cooking and planning meals. You get frustrated and exhausted when you spend too much time on the white and red chips – plus, you start to neglect the blue. So analyse how you divide your day. There will never be enough hours, but you can always shift your focus.”
Jennifer Chamandi Boghossian, shoe designer, Jennifer Chamandi
Jennifer Chamandi Boghossian pursued a career as a senior banker, then decided to follow her childhood dream. She launched her own shoe brand in 2016. The label now counts the likes of the Duchess of Sussex and Amal Clooney among its loyal fans.
“I have a true passion for organisation and there’s a quote by Benjamin Franklin I live by: ‘For every minute spent in organising, an hour is earned.’ Organising for me is the secret to saving time and decluttering your mind. I organise everything, from business folders on Dropbox to my twin girls’ toys. My seven years in banking really helped hone these skills, specifically having structure, being methodical, forging discipline. At work, I see the value in and importance of filing and naming files correctly, coherently and consistently. By name, purpose and date. When we have an unexpected request or for accounting purposes, it saves a huge amount of time. Another quote I remind myself of is: ‘Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions’ by Barbara Hemphill. For my twins’ toys, I like to organise them by categories and colour. For example, I put all the teacups and cupcakes together and put their ponies, babies and bunnies in another box. My latest project has been to organise their arts and craft area. When it come to my own belongings, I organise everything using Muji pouches. I have different-sized pouches for everything: my cards, creams, lip balms, keys, receipts etc. I even have one for face masks!”