When it comes to sleep and skincare, Anna Persaud certainly knows her stuff. CEO of wellness brand This Works since 2009 with a PHD in biochemistry to boot, we sat down with Anna to talk motivation, time management tips and why relaxation is the secret key to success.
Q. What’s your go-to breakfast to keep you energised for the day ahead?
Actually, I don’t eat breakfast. I concentrate my calories into a short amount of time rather than taking them throughout the day. Usually, I don’t eat until after midday.
However, I try to boost my energy levels by getting natural light in my eye - proper daylight, early in the morning. So I try to get outside for around 20 minutes to get the light in my eyes.
I also use our Morning Expert functional fragrance which really helps and has been proven to improve your ability to focus and concentrate in the morning. And I drink coffee.
Q. What does your post-workout routine look like?
I do yoga 4-5 times a week, four of these sessions being hot yoga sessions. Really importantly, for me it’s about rehydration - drinking electrolytes and obviously plenty of water. That’s crucial to my post-workout routine.
I do yoga in the evening which means part of the unwinding is also to cool down, because you can’t sleep well if your core body temperature is too hot. So part of my post-workout also involves having a cool shower.
I also avoid using my phone and won’t answer emails after I’ve done my workout to remain in a calm state. For me, it’s all about keeping distractions and things that excite the mind to one side so that I can sleep well.
Q. Tell us, as a busy CEO - are there any apps/tech you swear by that help you manage your day?
Like everyone else I’m using all the various diary management tools that we’re all very familiar with in the workplace - that’s a big part of how I work my day. And I’m very disciplined, so lots of time management, a skill I’ve learnt over the years.
The main thing for me to remain on point and at the top of my game is about scheduling relaxation and moments to step away. In the evening I’ll use Headspace for meditation and mindfulness as part of my relaxation and journey to sleep.
Also, sometimes during the day I use a clinical hypnotherapy app called Reveri which was created by a psychiatrist and clinical hypnotherapist. This app is really clever and can help you to find focus by making sure that you’re using your day to maximum benefit.
Q. Do you have any top tips for balancing work and family life?
We talk about not giving into the cult of ‘busy’ and this idea that being busy is best. I think that attitudes are changing and evolving really quickly. We can work from home which has definitely made life easier - we don’t have to waste time traveling.
For me, it’s about making sure that you give your family the time they deserve - that you find those moments in the day and you stick to them. Regardless of how many pressures you may have, so your children can know they have that time with you. On the weekends I try very hard not to work until I do my Sunday night admin (which prepares me for the week ahead).
I think it comes back to making sure you find time with friends, have time with family. We do sport as a family - and we also have a dog. Having pets not only forces you to exercise but makes sure you do things that are good for you and good for the family.
Q. What excites you the most about your work?
I’m really fortunate that This Works is a brand that I have spent the last 14 years working for and it’s woven into my life, I’m very proud of the business that we’ve built.
We are a wellness brand and so being able to give people everyday, easy to use, easy to understand solutions is incredibly exciting.
You can see how it's affecting their lives everyday by how customers respond and what the community says about your products. That is so rewarding and inspires me to see what else we can do to improve people’s lives - specifically when it comes to how the nervous system affects sleep and stress, as well as the ability to concentrate and focus, manage our moods and behaviours etc.
The challenge to us as a wellness brand in the cosmetics business is seeing what we can do with cosmetics to really help manage customers’ moods, behaviours and wellbeing. So that’s what we’re focusing our research on right now and it’s incredibly exciting!
Q. Do you have any advice for staying motivated?
Motivation for me is about finding something that you can genuinely get lost in. Something to concentrate on without it being a chore. Something that is genuinely inspiring to you. And if you can find that, then motivation will follow. Sometimes we all have to push through and be resilient in difficult times but I think it’s about finding your own purpose.
Once you can identify your purpose then you can have a goal and a prize to focus upon and that will help you to continue to be motivated over the long term.
Q. What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care to me is small things, every single day. It’s not about going to a luxury spa (although that’s a lovely treat). No, self-care is remembering to pack fruit to eat in the middle of the day, self-care is about scheduling my yoga classes into already packed schedules, self-care is making sure that I do switch off and don’t continue to read my emails in the evening - that I get ready and have that good night’s sleep.
Self-care is reading a book that I find inspiring. Self-care is seeing a friend and making sure that I have a good community of like-minded people around me. So, self-care is a series of small daily steps that we should take to keep ourselves balanced and in a good place.
Q. Do you have any tips for the perfect night’s sleep?
I have many, many tips for a good night’s sleep because This Works has been investing in the science of sleep since 2011 and we launched our first functional fragrance in 2004 - I have lots of experience!
It really depends on your challenge in terms of sleep. Whether you’re someone that has temporary insomnia, acute insomnia or someone who just has occasional days where they don’t sleep very well.
My best advice is to identify what kind of problem you’re experiencing and to make sure you schedule the time to find out the best solutions for you. At This Works we have lots of advice that we can give if someone wants to give us a call on our customer service line too.
For me personally, it’s really about discipline - putting things aside that we know are going to create problems in terms of sleep, such as using devices heavily before bed. The same goes for creating the wrong environment to sleep in - too hot, too much light, too much noise, having a TV in your bedroom, drinking caffeine in the afternoon - it is centered around being a little bit more disciplined and prioritising sleep.
And then of course our range of sleep solutions, in particular This Works’ Deep Sleep Pillow Spray which has been created for people who struggle to get to sleep and the Sleep Plus Pillow Spray which has been specially created for those who wake up in the night.
These are two products used by millions of people, with lots of data showing how effective they can be. They work because they both contain functional fragrances which help the brain switch on areas that pave the way to a good night’s sleep.
Q. Finally, what’s in your La Pochette?
I’m currently in Ibiza and I brought my Wet Bag with me. I took it to the beautiful Aguas Blancas beach today and I packed my sun tan lotion, my phone, my sunglasses and my bikini. I took everything along in my amazing La Pochette and it looked beautiful!