University of Edinburgh entrepreneurship trainer, Dr Liita Cairney, on her day on campus

Dr Cairney shares a diary entry

6am

I am not a natural early riser, but I am the mother to a five-year-old child and two kittens (named Love and Heart). The kittens usually wake up and want to be fed at this time. They let me know by scratching at my bedroom door.

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7am

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Most weekday mornings, I meditate to a 12-minutes audio recording that I put together when I was pregnant with my child in 2017. This audio is based on the concept of Yoga Nidra.

Whenever I wake up feeling lethargic, I use the audio to tune into my body, ground myself in my physical location, and mentally plan for my day. The Harness Your Menstrual Cycle education that I developed for Firstperiod.Org taps into this kind of continual awareness of one’s mind and surroundings by using the menstrual cycle as a framework.

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I usually practice meditation on a yoga mat in my living room, in child pose or corpse pose.

Most mornings, my child wakes up during my meditation, comes into the living room and switches on the TV. I then make breakfast. He has pancakes at least one morning per week. I usually make a fruit smoothie for myself.

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Dr Ndalinoshisho Liita-Iyaloo Cairney with her baby

8.30am

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We live in the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh. My child is currently in Primary One at a school that is a five minute walk from home. Yet, the two of us rushing through our neighbourhood streets to make it to school in time is a common sight. After school drop-off, I usually head to the University of Edinburgh George Square campus to my office in Appleton Tower. I have the option of taking a tram, bus, taxi, or walking. Most mornings, I take the tram from the Murrayfield Rugby Stadium tram stop and get off at the Princes Street stop.

I love living in Edinburgh. It is a highly walkable city that deeply preserves and proudly shows off the intellectual history of Scotland through its buildings and free art.

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On my 10-15 minute walk from the Princes Street tram stop to my office, up the Mound, along North Bank Street, and then onto the University of Edinburgh campus via George IV Bridge, I appreciate the following iconic landmarks: Princes Street Gardens; Scottish National Gallery; The University of Edinburgh School of Divinity; the Museum of Money and the National Museum. At the David Hume statue, I cross the Royal Mile leading to Edinburgh Castle and pass St. Giles’ Cathedral, where I viewed the body of Queen Elizabeth II lying in state with my friend Cherry on September 13 2022.

9.30am

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My job role at the University of Edinburgh is as an entrepreneurship trainer for undergraduates, postgraduate students, and staff in the School of Informatics. Although I directly report to the Director of Commercialisation and Industry Engagement in the School of Informatics (Jim Ashe), I also work closely with the Personal Chair of Software Transformation and the Director of Teaching in the School of Informatics (Bjorn Franke). My office is on the 8th floor of Appleton Tower. It is spacious and sunny, with large windows, and has beautiful views.

On any given day, I end up running into and chatting to a variety of colleagues who also have offices on the same floor. These include the course development support team in Informatics Learning Technology, Informatics Teaching Organisation and fellow undergraduate students’ educators in the Informatics University Teachers team. Each of these teams are engaged in helping me develop coursework and digital platforms.

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My morning work routine usually consists of reviewing my Microsoft Outlook email and calendar. I confirm my meetings for the day and respond to any urgent emails.

Unless very necessary, I try and not have meetings between 10am and 11am. I like to spend an hour writing on my computer and planning for my coursework, and reflecting on notes that I took during prior meetings. I am a prolific note taker. I always carry a notebook with me. I have more than 20 notebooks that I have filled with my musings since I became an entrepreneur in 2013. These have proven very useful. The rest of my morning usually consists of meetings with students, staff, and my team.

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1pm

For lunch, I often arrange to meet one of my colleagues or one of my personal friends who lives or works within a walking-distance of campus.

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2.30pm

On Mondays and Tuesdays, I don’t take a lunch break and leave the office at this time. This ensures that I can be back in Murrayfield by 3pm, in order to pick up my child from school.

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6pm

On Thursdays and Fridays, I usually work from 9:30 to 6pm or later. My Thursday and Friday afternoons usually consist of more meetings, and a couple of hours of dedicated writing time. When I dedicate myself to that, I usually have my email notifications off so that I do not get distracted. I like to listen to instrumental music on my Spotify account when I write. At the moment, my four go-to albums are Clair de Lune by composer Claude Debussy; the instrumental soundtrack by Ludwig Goransson for the movie Venom (with actor Tom Hardy); The instrumental Soundtrack for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse by Daniel Pemberton; and the Uthando Lwami album by DJ Obza.

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Dr Cairney, founder of Kalitasha, is appearing at the week long Careers Hive until November 12 at the National Museum of Scotland. This is aimed at S1-S3 pupils to inspire them to pursue a STEM-based career

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