A graduate of the University of Florida, Patrick Cox is a strategic advisor whose professional goal is to align business incentives to solve human problems on a broad scale. Electricity, technology, and financial innovations have created a unique turning point where sustainability is not just a moral boon, but essential to business survival. He plans to influence this through structured and informed decision-making, guiding the businesses of today to preserve our tomorrow. Specifically, Patrick Cox uses models and analytics to make actionable decisions that can be seen at all levels of a company.
Outside of school and work, Patrick Cox enjoys any outdoor activities, particularly Mountaineering, having summited Kilimanjaro and Rainier, and overland camping. In his free time, Patrick currently participates in playing soccer, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball. Patrick is also passionate about building and repairing cars and high-performance off-road vehicles in his spare time, both for personal use and on contract.
Patrick Cox enjoys reading The Economist, SSRN articles, listening to Radiolab, and actively managing investments.
We caught up with Patrick Cox who spoke to us about his personal approach to managing an effective balance between life and work, as well as how he brings new ideas to life.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I typically wake up around 8 am and have a bagel for breakfast. The rest of my day varies, but it involves working through the morning before taking a break to take a walk and eat lunch around 1-2 pm. I strive to have most of my requirements for school or work completed by the evening so I have some free time, but sometimes I work through the whole day. After my work is complete, I usually play a game of volleyball or ultimate frisbee and eat dinner while spending time with my girlfriend. I use the later hours between 10 pm and 1 am to work on personal projects or read about things I’m interested in before I go to bed around 1 am.
I look at making my day productive by slowing down, prioritizing, and creating small goals. I dedicate time to specific projects throughout the day and create buckets where I can check my phone and email. This helps me stay focused and not get distracted.
I also try to set timers to help me focus on specific goals for a set duration of time. This helps my mind not wander and creates a sense of achievement that can be replicated throughout the day. I try not to use social media or check my phone during the day to avoid distractions and train my brain to focus better.
I find that slowing down and reinforcing learning after reaching a stopping point is extremely helpful. This lets me refocus and helps retention for when I start that task again in the future.
Can you share your personal approach to managing an effective balance between life and work?
Clearly understanding how work and play relate to my satisfaction is the most important balancing component for me. Sometimes I need the feeling of consistently being productive to feel good about myself and other times I need to step back and take a break to refocus.
Helping succeed businesses and solving innovative problems is a fun task for me. Because of this, I often blur the line between work and life. The principal difference is that I try to make sure my free-time projects are directed to helping individuals who can’t normally afford a similar service. I do find that, while not overwhelming, this can lead to decreased productivity if I’m essentially just working the entire time.
To help mitigate being a workaholic, I budget time limits for work and try to create the expectation that certain activities will take place at certain times. This is easy for me with sports and outdoor activities that are usually on a schedule. I find it is extremely helpful in budgeting meaningful time for my relationship and relaxation. Respecting the role these activities play in my mental health and how they improve my work has led to an increased sense of happiness and personal fulfillment in my life. This means that I can effectively budget my interests and balance the different types of activities I find joy in.
How do you bring ideas to life?
After I have an idea, I usually write down exactly what I’m thinking and what the idea would look like if executed. I then write several buckets, breaking down key components and ways to implement the idea beneath it.
I want to see what other people have done similarly and putting all my thinking down first helps me to not get trapped in their framework. I then perform cursory research to make sure that I’m not replicating someone else’s work, and that my idea is truly novel. If I can confirm I didn’t just have the same brainwave as someone else, I begin to look at what implementation would look like. I evaluate the problem my idea solves and the people it will influence.
From there I look at feasibility. I want to know if my idea requires a reasonable amount of money to execute and if proper execution would help individuals. I also want to know what my involvement in this idea would be. For instance, if I can spend four hours a week implementing an idea it’s extremely feasible. If I must spend forty, it’s going to be hard for me to do.
What is your approach to starting a new project?
Developing a key understanding of what success looks like and how much time a project will take is the first thing I do when starting a new project. Whether it is personal, or for work or school, knowing the structure of your solution is incredibly important.
For instance, let’s say I’m solving a revenue growth challenge for a business. There’s a huge difference between focusing on a three-year plan for turnaround or rectifying an immediate sales crisis. Knowing what an answer should look like and focusing my problem solving on that answer helps me ensure I can execute projects successfully.
Developing a firm understanding of the time the project needs is also a key component in starting something new. I can think of very few times in my life when I didn’t encounter something unexpected. If I take the time to set up a blueprint for action and try some tasks, I can get a rough idea of how much energy and effort is necessary to approach a project. This helps mitigate challenges. If I find a ton of missing links or a complicated interface program when accessing a database, I know I’m going to have to spend much more time on the project than if I could just download an excel sheet.
Once I have this firm goal and expectation, I can break a project down and engage in structured problem solving or planning. Creating a mutually exclusive framework is the final initial step that will help decision-making at every stage of the project.
Learn more about Patrick Cox of Tallahasse Florida on his website.