AM to PM takes a sneak peek at the daily routines of some of our business community’s top professionals.
Michael Blaken is the Accounts Director at Optimum Professional Services.
Optimum has offices in Swindon and Cheltenham, combining accountancy and legal services under one roof, making its services more effective for clients. On the accountancy side, Optimum offers audit and accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, business planning and business tax, personal tax and VAT. The legal team specialise in domestic and commercial property sales, tenancies and leases, equity release and wills.
Michael talks to us about his remarkable notepad, frustrations with HMRC, family life and his two-year-old climbing on the table!
What time does your alarm go off?
Whenever the first of my three children arrives into the bedroom is what wakes me up. I’ve got an eight, four and two-year-old and they always beat the alarm.
Do you have a strict morning routine or do you take a flexible approach?
What we get done in the morning – wash, dress, eat, get the kids to school – is the same every weekday but how we achieve this, and in which order, is somewhat variable!
What’s on the breakfast table?
Usually my two-year-old – and I mean on the table, not at the table. He likes to be there first, and very often gets his own Cheerios.
Aside from grabbing a bite to eat, how do you spend your lunch break?
Whenever I get a few minutes, I like to be with the team in our communal kitchen and sitting area, chatting and finding out how everyone’s doing, and catching up on gossip, of course!
What’s the most fun part of your day?
Days when there are meetings in the diary. Working face to face with clients and helping their businesses improve gives me a real kick. These days are great, but I treasure the time when I get home to the family.
What do you love most about your job?
Working with clients. I really enjoy helping my clients, who are business owners and directors, to put plans in place to grow and flourish. Even during the pandemic and now in the cost-of-living crisis, we are seeing real success stories.
What’s the worst part of the job?
Trying to get hold of HMRC to deal with issues they create – however, the team deal with this mainly. For me, this isn’t the worst part but it’s definitely the most challenging. Combining working in the business and helping clients, with being a co-director and running a business, planning for its growth, recruiting etc. There’s a lot to fit in.
What gadget or app could you not live without in your professional life?
My reMarkable. I wouldn’t be without it. It’s an electronic notepad, but unlike a real notepad I don’t have to trawl back through pages and pages as I have all my notes under each client folder. This, along with using ClickUp to run my tasks/daily schedule, has been a huge time and stress saver.
If you could clone yourself, what would your clone get up to whilst you were busy working?
Definitely spending more time with the family, playing football and running. Maybe I could get the clone to do the work and I’d get the family/leisure time?
If you changed direction, what would be your Plan B?
I was brought up on a farm, spending a lot of time outdoors. If I did anything other than accountancy, I’d like to be working outdoors.