- Grace Beverley founded a sustainable activewear brand and a fitness app while a full-time Oxford student.
- She is writing a book on how to be productive and says “this is just the start.”
- Her first tip? “Start with your worst task — get it out of the way.”.
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Grace Beverley founded two fitness businesses while a student at Oxford, despite a university rule prohibiting part-time employment during the academic term. She graduated last summer and, at 23, is the CEO and owner of sustainable activewear brand TALA and fitness app SHREDDY, which also sells the popular B_ND gym equipment.
She has a million followers on Instagram and 580,000 subscribers on YouTube. “This is just the start,” the Gen Z entrepreneur told Insider as she shared her advice on how to maximize productivity – something she’s writing a book about.
1. Take time to prioritize
“Prioritizing is the most important part of every day,” Beverley says. “Start with your worst task first – get it out the way.” This technique helped the music student-turned-businesswoman manage her degree alongside the launch of both of her companies. “It wasn’t so much about ‘getting around’ the university’s rules,” Beverley added. “I guess I overcame it with a very full-time job.”
She founded B_ND (now part of SHREDDY) in her second year at Oxford and set up TALA while she was studying for her final exams. “I made sure never to give anyone an excuse to doubt that I was giving my university work my all.” Despite running the businesses, she says she never submitted a piece of academic work late.
2. Write down your daily goals
Beverley’s Instagram followers get glimpses of her notepad, as well as Google Docs and Google Sheets. She finds writing things down helps her stay motivated and accountable.
“Write down three goals for the day at the beginning of every single day. And no, they can’t be ones that you’ll tick off within five minutes,” she adds.
3. Always be SMART
When it comes to goal setting, many businesses try the common SMART method – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Beverley follows the criteria of the project management mnemonic to track her progress. “Make each goal you set – whether daily, weekly, or monthly – S.M.A.R.T. Don’t just set generic goals, or you’ll never know whether you’re getting them right.”
To keep herself focused, Beverley uses the app and Chrome extension Forest, which grows virtual trees while users log the time they spend concentrating.
4. Ration your emails
According to McKinsey analysis, the average professional spends more than a quarter (28%) of their working day reading and responding to email. Beverley recommends only checking emails at designated times. She said: “Don’t allow yourself to use emails as an excuse to trawl through your work day unproductively, or to do surface-level work when you should be making deeper progress.”
5. Set boundaries to have time to rest and reset
Beverley set some clear boundaries early in 2020 and stuck to them despite the global disruption of COVID-19. The pandemics blurred the work-life boundaries for many, as many of us suddenly had to work from home. Beverley’s boundaries stopped feeling she should log on outside working hours. “I have a strict rule about not working on the weekends that I introduced in January  when I realised my relationship with work was becoming unhealthy,” she says. “It is imperative to understand that rest is as important as being productive, despite what infographics on Instagram might tell you.”
6. Balance is a myth – so do what makes sense for you
Beverley says she thought there was no such thing as a perfect balance between business and personal life. Instead, she argues, it’s important to set parameters to keep you feeling energized and able to see the bigger picture.
Beverly advocates realistic targets that change depending on your circumstances. “I feel like balance is yet another unattainable standard we hope to achieve and end up falling short. I just know myself well, know what I need and listen to my body a lot. I aim to finish my day around 6pm to make sure I have the same amount of energy for the following day – but of course, it doesn’t always work out quite like that.” Think long-term, even when there are imminent deadlines. She says: “There is no point of being overly productive one day when you can’t give it your all the next.”
For now, Beverley is focusing on growing TALA and SHREDDY, as well as writing her debut book, “Working Hard, Hardly Working: Redefining productivity in the modern world,” out in the spring. She adds: “Don’t even say the words ‘another business’ to me for at least two more years.”