In 7 Hours With, we explore the routines of leading professionals in their space to learn the when, why, where and how they work. In each diary, we will look at what they’re doing at seven different check-ins throughout their day. Seb Atkinson is the Head of SEO at KnowYourMoney.co.uk, a Hive customer, where their primary goal is to provide clear, accurate and transparent comparisons for a wide range of financial products.
I usually get up at 6:45, which gives me time for around 45 minutes of reading after breakfast, before I head into the office. I like this morning routine as it gives me a chance to fully wake up and get ready for the day ahead. In terms of getting to the office, I’m fortunate to be able to walk to the office in only 20 minutes, which is just enough time to catch up on a podcast while on the move. I usually grab a latte or espresso when I arrive at the office to kick off the day.
I usually get in just before 9, unless I have a time-sensitive task to complete that day, in which case I may go in earlier. The first thing I do is check my emails before reviewing my calendar and to-do list for the day.
I’m Head of SEO at KnowYourMoney.co.uk, where our goal is to provide clear, accurate and transparent comparisons for a wide range of financial products. Basically, I am responsible for increasing our site’s organic search visibility, helping more people to find our site and make savings on bank accounts, loans and other financial products.
At the beginning of the day, I look at My Actions in Hive to review what needs to be done. Hive is also an important conduit at our company for communicating Technical SEO updates, where we add SEO update requests to a Kanban board and discuss tasks each week in our Technical SEO catch up meeting. Each task gets an action card, where we attach relevant documents and add comments on key discussion points from the weekly meeting. The cards are an invaluable part of being able to track each task through to completion and ensure we’re affecting positive SEO improvements.
While in our weekly meeting, around 11 AM, we use the Kanban board view, the development team tend to use the Gantt view as it allows them to schedule tasks effectively. However, there is the flexibility for members in the team to define their own workflow and use the views that suit them most.
Following the success of this, we’ve just started onboarding our content production team onto Hive. We’ve set up a separate content project using a Kanban view with a column for each stage in our production process. Each team member is responsible for a specific column, once they’ve completed their task, they can then move it along the board to the next person. One of the benefits of Hive we’re excited about for content production is the ability to switch the Kanban view to a calendar view, which will help us keep on top of our production capacity and ensure team members do not get overwhelmed with too many urgent deadlines.
My favorite view is My Actions, which gives me a to-do list of all my activity. It’s great to have everything in one place rather than having to check multiple lists in different places for my daily tasks and projects.
I tend to eat lunch at my desk, but only so I can go out for a midday gym session or go for a run. I find that exercising midday can really energize you for the afternoon and regular exercise is a good way to de-stress. That is one of my biggest productivity hacks, in addition to never completing a task at the end of the day. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the truth is that many people struggle to get going with their tasks in the mornings, often wasting time looking for things to do or struggling to find the motivation to start those activities.
By leaving a task unfinished the night before, in the morning you’ll know exactly what you need to do and can finish it up as your first main activity of the day. That means you’ll start your day by completing a milestone early on, which will help set the mood for a productive day.
I usually schedule meetings for the afternoon so I have the morning free for productive work, so at this time of the day, I’ll usually be in a few meetings. I can also block out my calendar if there is a time-sensitive task I need to complete, but otherwise all my tasks live in my Hive actions list!
I am pretty strict with my work-life balance and aim to leave promptly at 5. I see this as motivation to stay productive throughout the day and not let tasks drag on for longer than they need to.
A healthy work-life balance is very important for mental wellbeing and avoiding burnout, which for me means no emails or work after I’ve left the office unless it’s critically important.
Numerous studies show that working long hours actually makes you less productive. According to Stanford University, someone who works 70 hours a week is only getting the same amount of work done as someone putting in 55 hours a week. So I see my 7 hours in the office as a target to be as productive as possible, prioritizing the high-value, high reward tasks.
Since I’m out of the office by 5 PM, my evenings are totally free for leisure. Deliberately spending time away from work is just as important for staying productive, having more energy, and coming up with more creative ideas – something I learnt from the book Rest: Why you get more done when you work less by Alex Soojun-Kim Pang.