Harriet Minter: founder and editor of the Guardian’s Women in leadership site talks to TQC about procrastinating, coffees with inspiring women and what sets her heart racing
Harriet Minter talks to us about her daily routine, ditching the 5K for some quality procrastination and her take on the perfect work/life balance
- Tell us about you – what motivates you?
It’s changed as I’ve got older. Previously I would have said money, but if you’re really motivated by money don’t become a journalist. You’ll be constantly disappointed. Now I know myself a bit better I’d probably say, recognition and improvement. I’m a terrible applause junky, so having people see the work I’m doing and appreciate it is the best thing. I really struggled with that for a while, I thought it made me a horrible person to need that level of praise but I’ve got over that now. I do good stuff, it’s nice when people appreciate it. The other thing I like is to improve stuff. I am an incorrigible fixer, I can’t help it. It’s constantly getting me into trouble.
- What does a day in the life of you look like?
I’d like to tell you that I leap out of bed when my alarm goes off, run 5km and then head into work for a day of productive action but it’s basically the opposite of that. I’m a terrible procrastinator and that starts the minute I wake up. I listen to the Today programme, scrabble around for something to wear and inevitably run out of the house late. Like every job there are things you have to get done, so I try to spend my mornings focussing on the stuff that has to happen. If I book too many meetings early on in the day I tend to get distracted by exciting projects and creative planning, then nothing happens. So I’ll get to the office, sit down at my desk, do any writing for that day, catch up with the team, look at our stats for the previous day and plan out our social media. Afternoons I like to spend meeting people, whether that’s existing contacts or potential new stories, and planning out content for the rest of the week. I get invited to loads of really great women’s networking events in the evenings and I try to go to as many as possible but I’ve had to restrict myself to about two a week. More than that and I find I’m not doing enough of the other stuff that I need, like seeing friends, exercising or just doing my washing. I always know that my diary is too busy when I’ve run out of clean knickers.
- What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
Hmmmm, I’m not sure. I’ve done a lot of stuff that in retrospect was a bit of a stupid idea but at the time seemed like an amazing opportunity…. I guess I don’t think much of what I do is that courageous. I think wherever you are in life, you always have options and it’s just up to you to pick the best one for your situation and for me, the best one is usually the one that makes my heart race. I always know instantly when I’ve made a mistake, I can feel it, and generally at that point I’m very happy to change my mind and go back on it. Maybe that’s the most courageous thing you can do, admit you’ve got it wrong and start again?
- What does Balance mean to you in your life?
Balance is hard for me because I’m naturally an extremist. Left to my own devices I’m either going at full speed or I’m doing nothing. I’ve got better at controlling that but it’s still a work in progress. I don’t really think you can have a complete work-life balance if you love your job, and given how much time we spend at work I think loving your job is hugely important. Instead I like to think about all the good stuff that my life brings to my work and vice-versa. Some of my closest friends have come about through work and some of my best ideas for work have come when I’ve decided to take up a new course or do something different on a Saturday. I think women have spent a long time beating themselves up for not having a perfect balance, instead of celebrating how much each area of their lives can bring to the others. That said, I’ve become one of those people who bangs on about how they need yoga in their life or they go crazy. I never thought that would be me but it is, I’m a crazy yoga lady and proud of it.
- Who is your role model and why?
I’m not sure I have just one. Or that I’d even use the term role model. There’s no one woman who I look at and think, “your life is the one I want”. But I am lucky enough to meet lots of amazing women who have fabulous lives and inspire me to bring some of that into my own. The second I meet someone with a brilliant idea, loads of passion and a sense of humour I know I’m going to think, “I want to be like you”.
- What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve read, seen or done in the last month?
I’ve just finished reading Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith which I heartily recommend if, like me, you can’t stick to anything for more than a week. But it’s more practical than inspiring. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some brilliant coaches including Nikki Armitage and Patti Fletcher, both of whom are incredible. I went to an amazing female entrepreneur’s event, Flock, which gave me so much enthusiasm. At least twice each week I’ve had coffee with women who inspire me. I had dinner with four of my oldest friends who know me the best and give the best advice. And I spent a week in Portugal with no wifi, daily yoga and two of my best friends, where we did little more than sleep and drink wine. It’s amazing how inspiring those two things are!
If you’ve yet to check out the continually inspiring Guardian Women In Leadership (hold up- where have you BEEN?), check it out here