Whenever I meet someone and my profession comes up in conversation, most people ask what it is that I actually do.
So I though I’d share a brief ‘day in the life’ to illustrate the kinds of thing a psychologist does when it comes to the world of work.
Firstly, the reason I do what I do is the sheer variety. Really, no two days are the same. While my focus is on helping people and teams in the workplace, the variety of topics and how they can manifest is incredibly diverse.
Today is pretty representative though.
I usually start with a review of my agenda and checking tasks assigned to today in my task management app (Things 3). I do this over a coffee and it represents my ritual to start the day. This gives me clarity on what I need to focus on, a reminder of the ‘must do’ tasks and a sense of calm before I launch into work.
Next, a scan through my email inbox to check for anything important or interesting. I tend to keep my email app closed while focusing on other things and have all email notifications turned off. It’s a source of distraction otherwise and, as I’m not a transplant surgeon, I don’t really have professional ‘emergencies’.
Anything pertinent will get added as a task to Things and then it’s off into my daily appointments.
This morning I have three hour-long coaching sessions with team members of a creative studio I work with. This is part of an ongoing programme of monthly coaching on demand, which requires a fairly agile approach when compared to the standard coaching process.
Think of it as ‘just in time coaching’, where I may not see the person every month, or I may just spend that one hour with them ever. So the focus is on extracted as much value from the hour we have as possible.
At present, a lot of the work I do is focused on wellbeing: managing pressure and stress while working from home, dealing with the anxious thoughts that arise from a pandemic, and so on. That said, lots of the buts and bolts of work come up in discussions too: dealing with tricky relationships, prioritising workload, maintaining some semblance of work-life balance.
As I’m working from home right now, due to the pandemic, all of my coaching sessions and training takes place via video. I’ve always done a proportion of my work over video, so there wasn’t too much adjustment once lockdown hit last year. Still, I’m looking forward to getting back to my office and eventually, seeing clients face to face.
I then have the final workshop in a psychological flexibility programme I’m running for a tech company in Sweden. It’s a four-part training programme, so today is all about reviewing what they’ve taken from the pre-reading packs, the skills they’ve been putting into practice since our last session and then illustrating how they can keep these skills fresh and habitual now that the training is coming to a close.
In addition to the above, I usually have calls with clients about the projects I’m running. First today, I have a call with a prospective client about a leadership coaching programme for their top team. We’ve been discussing it for a while, so today might represent the green light for this. I’ll probably be involving one of my associate psychologists in this project, to share the load, and ensure I don’t have too many coaching clients on my books at the same time.
I then have a call with some other clients to review feedback on a wellbeing and resilience programme I’m running for them. We do this after each module for the 140 or so delegates has been completed, so we can ‘course correct’ for the subsequent module the following month. Next week sees the final workshops in this programme, something I’ve been working on since November 2020, so it’ll be nice to draw a line under it all.
Preparation and review
I’ll wrap up the day with some prep for a productivity workshop I’m running first thing tomorrow morning. A quick run through the slide deck and a walk through of how I’m going to demonstrate putting the principles into practice using an online task management app.
A final review of my tasks and email in-box and that’s a wrap.
A fairly typical day for this psychologist, if a slightly busy one. As I own my own schedule, I ensured tomorrow has far fewer meetings and plenty of time for catching up on admin, planning and writing the new courses I’m aiming to get finished in April.