Dionne Taylor is the Founder & Director of Polkadot Communications, an integrated communications consultancy offering PR, social media, marketing, event management and digital related services.
In addition to running Polkadot, Dionne also launched an app called Story Match, which connects brands with relevant media.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I worked as a journalist for a few years before ‘jumping to the dark side’ of PR, as they say. I started my agency, Polkadot Communications 13 years ago, running a profitable, collaborative, creative and exciting agency gets me out of bed every morning.
This year I launched an app that I have been working on for two years called Story Match which connects brands with relevant members of the media. It’s been described as “the Tinder for the media industry” – and has the potential to completely eliminate the need for agencies, putting the power back into the hands of brands, and giving journalists relevant content.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I am up at 6:30am, shower, change, get my kids up and get them ready with my husband. I drop my eldest daughter at school at 7:30am and am at my desk by 7:45am. I have WIP meetings with my clients in the US including The Empire State Building and P.volve two mornings a week at 8am to make the most of their working day.
I connect with my staff on workload, and check emails that have come through overnight, mostly from our UK clients including Hostelworld and Look Fantastic. Every day I write my ‘to do list’ and highlight it as I complete the tasks.
I usually have a face to face meeting with a client in the morning, before a lunchtime gym class. After that I continue to complete my work which consists of; bank reconciliation, speaking to potential new clients on the phone, working on new business proposals, reviewing strategy documents, the list is endless.
Every day I allocate at least an hour or two to the development of Story Match which includes liaising with my developer, responding to enquiries or making improvements to the user experience.
I pick up my kids from school around 5pm and get back into the parenting zone which includes homework, cooking dinner, folding washing, taking the client calls whilst doing all of that.
Often before I go to bed I’ll receive correspondence from clients who are waking up in the Northern Hemisphere so I may respond to urgent communication or wait until the next day. I have a hard deadline on sleep and am lights out by 9:30pm unless I have a work related event or a board meeting.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes it absolutely does and I can operate my role from anywhere in the world and often do when I travel for work. I travel twice a year to Bali to run media famils for our client The Mulia and once a year to New York for The Empire State Building.
I do interstate travel throughout the year and they’re usually for events or meetings and often same day travel. When in Sydney I prefer to work from our Bondi Junction offices as nothing beats face to face communication with my team. I have never been a productive ‘at home’ worker – the pantry has always been too much of a temptation.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
To-do lists with a highlighter to ticket off the task, so you can go back and read it! Daily to do lists hold me accountable and keep me in check. I also always allow 30 mins in between meeting so there’s no such thing as ‘back to backs’, allowing me time to regroup, shift gear, and refocus.
When it comes to family life, meal kits and online grocery shopping is a saviour and working out a great car pool with like-minded mums means you don’t need to do every lift to kids activities.
I also exercise as a priority and book in my classes as though they were meetings on a Sunday for the following week. If I left it up to the day to do it, I would probably never go.
5) What does work life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I don’t know anyone can ever claim they have the balance right but I do my best to ensure that every week I get a few hours to myself of “Dionne time” which I work hard to ensure it doesn’t consist of household chores or work related matters.
This time is rare but I make it a priority to find the time in the week to schedule it in. Thankfully there are so many elements of my role that are fun and exciting that they don’t feel like ‘work’. I channel my energies to the high paying tasks and outsource the rest.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
I’m a mad forward planner, I know what’s for dinner next Wednesday, so I am generally organised and work well to deadlines, both in my personal and professional life. This is also my downfall as it leaves little room for spontaneity which is what I strive for!
Every week I try to ensure I have given my attention to the 5 most important things in my life, and in no order of importance they are:
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
No books that have helped me with balance but a big eye opening book was Arianna Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life. I read it around the time I myself went through a personal burn out, leaving me with seizures, paralysis, no speech, memory loss, and now a heart monitor.
Now I am healthy, I have adopted some behaviours that she has followed, focusing on sleep as the priority. I need between 8-9 hours every night, and if I don’t get this everything else falls apart!
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
By having a good night’s sleep helps me get the most out of my day. I am more productive and focused. I ensure I have enough food fuel available so I don’t end up snacking on sweets, and refer to my to do list to make sure every item is ticked off.
I also keep a managing inbox and am obsessed with it being ‘0 unread’ by the time I leave the office. I often joke that my happiness is in direct proportion to the number of unread emails in my inbox!!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Find a passion or an outlet that takes you away from your daily responsibilities. It could be meditation, it could be reading, it could be exercising.
Try and get in at least 5 hours of this per week spread over a few days and commit to it as though it were the most important meeting of your life. Find a buddy to be accountable to ensure you’re never cheating yourself out of your commitment.
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