Kevin O’Brien is CFO of Union Street Technologies, the UK’s leading provider of billing software that enables MSPs to invoice for communications and IT services with pinpoint accuracy. During his career he has overseen financial planning and analysis for numerous IT and Telecoms businesses, most recently playing a pivotal role in Union Street’s merger with Aurora and its subsequent acquisition of ebillz. Here he picks five things he couldn’t do his job without.
1 Morning cold shower
It’s important to start the day right, and I’m a strong believer in getting your head in the right place before embarking on the day ahead. Even the world’s strongest espresso pales in comparison to the effects of a cold shower, there really is nothing better to fully wake up, invigorate the senses, and clear the fog. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and whilst the first blast of cold is something that I’ll never get used to, it’s become a fundamental part of my morning routine, and critical to get my mind and body ready for the challenges ahead. It’s also good for you, with numerous proven health benefits for circulation and the immune system.
2 iPhone Notes
Ideas and distractions are polar opposites, but one thing they have in common is that you can’t predict when either is going to come along. I am always thinking of things throughout the day such as tasks that have to be completed, items I need to chase up, or new ideas that could help take the business forward. As these seem to pop into my head at random, jotting them down is essential to prevent me forgetting them when my mind inevitably moves to something else. iPhone Notes is a great little app for this purpose, with just enough features to make it perfect for saving memos before you forget them or become distracted.
3 Bluetooth headphones
Anyone who has ever worked in an office can probably empathise when I say that a desk is both a blessing and a curse. Sitting at a desk can’t be beaten when it comes to focus time and getting things done, but a full day sitting down is no good for your health or your productivity. Having a good pair of hands-free headphones that enable me to take or make calls and attend meetings whilst walking around the garden is a real benefit. A quick spell outside always leaves me feeling refreshed and focused on the task in hand.
4 Dual Monitors
I just can’t seem to cope with only one! Using a second monitor makes it so much easier and faster to work on multiple files and programs simultaneously, rather than constantly clicking to minimise/maximise windows. The geeky but true fact is that I love data, and analysing, presenting or whatever else would just be too time consuming and frustrating without a second monitor. I draw the line at three though; that’s trying too hard!
The key ingredient to making any day productive is not taking yourself too seriously and having a great team to help ease the stress with some laughs. Business can be intense and challenging, but it should also be fun. It’s my opinion that humour is a chronically undervalued component in any successful company. If you’re going to attract and retain the best people, if your aim is to build a cohesive and enthusiastic team, if you want to cultivate a healthy and productive working environment, humour has to be part of the company culture. Luckily, at Union Street we have a great bunch of people, who work extremely hard and never fail to make it enjoyable.