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A Day in The Life: Spaceworks' Lizzi Whaley

Lizzi Whaley is the CEO of Spaceworks, a commercial interior design studio. Here's how she gets through the day, how she organises her time and how she handles the madness of business.

What time do you wake up?

5am weekdays and if I’m lucky, 7am on the weekend.

What’s the ideal way to start your day?

Meditation, yoga and gym. I have a group of gym buddies who will message me every minute I’m late and tell me I’m getting fatter by the minute. 

How soon do you begin doing work-related things, i.e. checking phone or emails?

I have my phone on aeroplane mode until I have done my meditation and yoga – then it’s all on! So between 5.45am and 6am when I get to the gym, it’s a quick scan of my emails and any messages received on social. Gotta keep up with the play, but it’s definitely not news of the world. I like to be upbeat, not want to fall into misery and despair.

What do or don’t you eat or drink to maintain your performance throughout the day?

I don’t drink coffee, I over indulged in that for far too long and just stopped sleeping. After my doctor wanted to put me on antidepressants just to sleep even though I wasn’t depressed, I thought something has to change. My nutritionist suggested caffeine. Day two off it and I slept like a baby.

I also stay away from alcohol Monday to Friday. I really hate clouds in my head during the week.

What’s your media consumption or interaction like from the morning onwards – do you listen to podcasts, radio, watch videos, read books and magazines, visit news sites? Which ones?

Loads of podcasts. I’m a bit of a crazed entrepreneur with a hippy side. So the podcasts I listen to: Brendan Burchard high performance habits, Shaman Durek for all things new age, Travis Barton my mentor/coach, who talks to inspirational people. I read so many books but they are all business, yoga or health and wellness. I struggle to not want to keep learning and growing even In my downtime. I have a really woo-woo aide that comes out in what I absorb in my ‘off’ time. And I love a good work road trip to absorb more!

What kind of work do you do? 

I’m the CEO of a commercial interior design studio.

What responsibilities does that involve in a typical day?

Talking to clients, chasing up new business, reviewing workflow, checking in on team deadline and stress levels, reviewing designs and giving feedback. Also, business planning for growth and diversity: it's quite diverse!

What takes up most of your time? Who do you see/talk to?

The team at Spaceworks: giving feedback and guidance on designs or service, or how to handle situations. I see my team more than anything.

What are your surroundings on a typical day? Where do your best ideas come from?

I work from our Auckland office mainly which is on K road and is super colourful at all times. At least once a week you could be sworn at and I enjoy every minute of it. I also travel to Wellington and Christchurch and spend time in these offices too. My best ideas come at obscure times, working out, on the yoga mat, in the shower, in the middle of the night. I just go with it.

How do you juggle all your responsibilities?

My phone is my connector. It keeps me in touch with my kids, my work calendar, my emails, everything. My team couldn’t live without ArchCad, but I put down the drawing tools sometime ago. 

Do you use social media?

Yep, sure do. My own and I manage the company social. We have other external people that assist but I keep my eye on it too. I’m an Insta girl – being a visual person, it’s my thing.

What kind of breaks do you take throughout the day?

When I sleep and the weekend. The weekends I do my best to switch off so I can be on form all week.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day? 

All of it. I love hanging out with my friends at the gym, I love my work and my team. And I get to bring my delicious puppy to the office. And at the end of the day I love my indulgence in yoga, meditation, spiritual workshops – yep, woo woo.

What about the least enjoyable?

Nothing. It’s all good.

Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?

Yep I do unfortunately and I can usually tell I am when I start tidying my desk or filing.

Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?

By what I actually achieved. I’m pretty diligent with goalsetting, then breaking them down into smaller chunks and setting time aside to do it. If I tick off a couple of things a week in relation to business growth then I’m productive. And if I have a happy team achieving deadlines I feel accomplished that they we are achieving for our clients.

Is there anything you think is unique about your day?

The diversity of roles I play – I’m sure others do too. But just in my work, we are not big enough to have our own marketing or HR department so I am (one of) sales, marketing, CEO, colleague, motivator, inspirer, email proofer (occasionally), confidante, finance... you name it, I've got my finger in the pie.

What’s your best productivity hack? 

I block out time in my diary everyday for two hours to work on the business. Part of my role includes working in the business too, so that can be quite distracting.

What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? 

Group chats are ideal, keeps everyone up to date. But comms is low, I chat to my main peeps at the gym and see them every week day. Mum has a direct line though – don’t all! But occasionally she’s told later too.

Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/partner/wife/friend?

I’m single, which allows me plenty of time on the business and also means I’m a part-time parent. When I have them, they are everything, when I don’t work is number one. It’s a great balance dictated by life.

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?

Not really, I have the odd stressful moment but I’ve learned that everything passes and it’s never over and it’s never donem so no point in worrying about anything. When I do have my moments, meditation is always my go too, followed closely by yoga. I’ve trained to be a meditation teacher so have lots of quick meditations at my disposal.

What are your favourite performance enhancing drugs?

Life. Absolutely nothing.  If anything- endorphins from exercise will give you a good kick.

Weekends are a different story, vodka or a beer and some sun are always a winner for getting Loopy Lizzi on the tabletops.

Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? And for how long each day?

Very much so. Five to six times a week for an hour, usually two to three yoga classes and probably some walks with my dogs. Exercise is fun for me, a hobby with the benefit being health and wellbeing.

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?

Cook dinner. Usually a programme of something that I’m Netflix binging. Suits is still my favourite – my puppy is called Harvey Spector. I figured if I couldn’t have the real thing...

What time do you go to sleep? How many hours sleep do you try to get each night? Any special techniques for a good night’s rest?

I go to bed at 8.30pm. I love my sleep and after months of not sleeping because of caffeine I just love being in bed! I like to get 8 hours sleep. I uaw meditation or yoga nidra for sleep. And Magnesium spray. You spray it and if you're itchy, you’re deficient. If not itchy, you’re spot on. I swear by it.

Hummingbird keeps the world – and great individuals like Lizzi – humming.

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