A Week in My Life: Andrew Armitage, Founder & Managing Director, A Digital

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Digital specialist Andrew Armitage is the founder of A Digital, the Kendal-based digital transformation agency.

The award-winning agency works with B2B clients in professional services, tourism and hospitality, manufacturing, and food and drink, as well as a range of ecommerce firms, providing services across consultancy, advanced websites and digital marketing.

Armitage himself has more than 20 years creating digital platforms for market leaders - working on projects of all sizes - and is a podcast host, regular keynote speaker and author.

We found out how a recent week in his life looked.

 

Monday

As an early riser, I’ll often sneak downstairs before the rest of the house is up to work through any outstanding emails from the week before and make a list of what’s ahead - it’s my favourite Monday morning ritual. I'm a fan of lists and Evernote has become my go-to app for organising personal tasks and ideas! 

As soon as I arrive at the office at 9am, we hold a full team meeting to catch up after the weekend, review current projects, and ensure everyone is happy with the week's schedule.

We’ve started the process of ‘time boxing’, which we’ve found to maintain productivity and enhance creativity. As a result, our Monday meeting is crucial to discuss ongoing projects and identify any roadblocks that might be disruptive or put team members at risk of overcommitting themselves. To add to the motivation, we’ll also set ourselves personal objectives for the week - it’s an incredibly important start to set us up for a great week. 

Every other Monday, we release an episode of A Digital’s podcast, 'The Clientside'. To-date we have over 30 episodes, recorded with guests from around the world on a variety of digital-related topics. The episode being released this week is about audio accessibility, which was recorded using instant chat and subsequently voiced by a professional voiceover artist. It’s one of my favourite episodes so far, so the team and I were excited to publish it. 

The start of the week is an excellent time to follow up on a few outstanding proposals and quotes, so that takes up most of the afternoon each Monday. I tend to finish around 6pm, using the last hour after everyone else has left to give myself the space to reply to any final emails and set priorities for the next day. 

Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, I drop my kids off at school. It’s on the way to work, and so I’m still usually in the office by 9:30am. 

We have a daily standup that I always try to join to hear all about the progress made the day before and what’s ahead and work together to help flag and overcome team blockers. The meetings are brief but extremely helpful to keep communication flowing between us and ensure everyone is aware of the team’s landscape and progress.

Today, I’m the guest on someone else’s podcast talking about my book, 'Holistic Website Planning: positioning your website at the centre of your digital transformation'.

The book was released in June 2021, so being able to guest on other podcasts has felt like the equivalent of a launch tour! It’s also highly cathartic to discuss the “why” and “how” of writing a book, as it was such a massive project for me. 

The afternoon is spent planning and writing a presentation for a talk I’ll be giving on 'the importance of creating a human experience on your website' as part of a development programme for Cumbrian businesses.

I’ve been an advisor on the Digital Tech Cumbria programme since last year, helping a variety of local businesses to make the most of digital technology. Not all of these companies have been within our usual target audience, so it's been interesting to hear different perspectives on what difficulties they face with their websites or digital marketing.

Specifically, it highlighted the much-discussed skills gap, as well as the challenges people face with templated WordPress sites or how they’ve been abandoned by other agencies who have moved on to the next project.

It’s also been interesting to see how traditionally entry-level tools like Wix are gathering momentum and targeting bigger clients with the simplicity of their platforms. These may not be within my usual stomping ground, but it’s rewarding to know that my advice can lead to small changes that have a big impact on fledgling businesses.

Wednesday

It's not just existing businesses affected by the skills gap, but also young people who will have a more challenging time finding employment as they start their careers in a post-COVID world.

This morning, I head to Barrow-in-Furness to share my career experiences with a group of Year 11 pupils. I'm passionate about giving young people the advice and the skills they need to get their careers off to a great start. Reassuringly, they don't all swarm around the free breakfast, although it does feel a bit like entering Dragons' Den after they ask some blunt questions.

To save time and reduce driving, I spend the rest of the day working from home given the office is another 15 miles the other way from where I live. It’s a quiet afternoon to get my head down on some planning ahead for 2022.

Working from home has been quite successful through the pandemic, but we’re still a studio-based team. Realistically, as we grow, we’ll likely have more people working remotely, and while I enjoy the peace and quiet of working at home, I find collaborating together as a team is far more effective face-to-face.

Before close of play, I have a quick look in our project management platform to see how things are progressing and update a few slides with some new ideas that have come to me for my upcoming talk. Ideas don’t all come at once, so I like to give myself time with these things to make sure I cover all bases.

Thursday

Thursday’s a good day to catch up with our project manager. We’re well through the week by now, so we should have a good understanding of which tasks will be completed and what the impact will be on the following week's schedule.

We’re approaching our year-end, so budgets for next year are high on my list. Having started the business and done most of the development myself in the early days, spreadsheets are pretty much the closest I get to writing code these days. That's a good thing though, as things are less likely to break, and my team are the experts in that department now.

Later, I have a quick check-in with our PR agency LarkHill PR. Currently, we’re working on some exposure to promote and support my book launch. It’s great to hear about how opportunities are progressing and to keep track of action items. 

A slightly earlier finish today, and there’s an opportunity to enjoy a quick evening bike ride. Being based on the edge of the Lake District, we’re blessed with a variety of off-road trails, so we’re spoiled for choice with some great routes just a short drive from both home and the studio.

Friday

Each Friday morning, I have a Zoom call with my accountability group, whom I met at a business accelerator programme in 2019. We’ve met weekly since the start of the pandemic and it’s a call I look forward to because it’s a great opportunity to hear the challenges facing other people in their work and get feedback or new ideas on my own.

We’re all at different stages with our business, with different experiences, so these are relationships and counsel that I really value.

Later this morning, we have a progress review with one of our clients. Structured reviews are something we do regularly in addition to any ongoing feedback to get a holistic hold on if our activities are addressing the needs of our clients.

We usually cover our current progress to-date, recognise areas of success, and identify and plan opportunities to improve, which helps set our sights on future focuses that will get our clients to where they need to be. It can also be incredibly exciting for the client and us to see how our work has helped performance! 

At this point, some of the team begin to filter out and head home. Subject to how much progress they have made during the week against their Monday objectives, people can finish anytime from lunchtime on Friday for well-deserved extra relaxation after a busy, productive week.

Before I know it, it’s the end of the day and another week for me as well. I head home to spend some quality time with my family and reboot the batteries before it all starts again. 

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