Balancing the Grind with Tom Allin, COO & Co-Founder at FLOWN

Tom Allin is COO & Co-Founder at FLOWN, a new deep-work-as-a-service company by serial entrepreneur Alicia Navarro.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I recently joined FLOWN as COO and co-founder. This is my second time around working with Alicia Navarro as I started my career at Skimlinks, Alicia’s first startup (that was later acquired by Connexity and then subsequently by Taboola) 

I was with Skimlinks for 8 years, moving from London to New York to open our office in Manhattan. Skimlinks provided commerce solutions to media organisations such as Buzzfeed, Hearst Magazines and The New York Times during a period of strategic focus on and huge growth of commerce revenues for publishers. It was an incredible experience getting to know how each of these publishers operated and the differences and similarities between them. 

After leaving Skimlinks I went on to join the publisher Condé Nast, as Executive Director of Global Commerce, responsible for growing commerce revenues in eleven markets. Whilte at Condé, I also helped launch the hospitality payments business TableYeti, later joining the board. 

In between all of this I had an exciting but all too short-lived 6 months at the one-click-checkout company, FAST. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

FLOWN is a service that helps people achieve a better relationship with their work – whether that be their job, their studies or a creative or entrepreneurial side project. We run over 65 hours of live, facilitated sessions a week, all designed to help people find flow and work in a focused distraction free way. 

As a result of what we do, we approach our work day and schedules with consideration. A good work day for me will involve joining one of our ‘Take Off’ sessions, which involve planning and preparing your day through intention setting as well as reflection through journaling.

I’ll then aim to give myself between 3 or 4 scheduled ‘deep work’ sessions a week, attending ‘Flocks’ to do this. Flocks can be ‘time boxed’ at either 1 or 2 hours in length or more open ended via our ‘Drop-In’ sessions. 

Outside of these deep work sessions I am catching up with email and slack and attending the usual mixture of internal and external meetings. 

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance to me means finding time in my week to work intentionally on my most important projects that feed into my most important goals as well as finding time to spend time outside as well as exercising and socialising. 

My best weeks are when I can look forward into the week and build these things into my schedule ahead of time, all whilst leaving time for more inevitable reactive work required. Yoga or an exercise class in the morning before work suits me best. 

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

The best habits I have picked up in the last 12 months are around the morning routine. I did an amazing season of at-home yoga with the fantastic Carl and Calli via their project Arc Productions and also, I as mentioned, started attending FLOWN’s ‘Take-Off’ sessions to build intentional planning and reflection into my mornings. 

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

A book that has had a big impact on me is Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. I read it at university and have been giving copies to friends ever since. 

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Working at Condé Nast gave me a huge amount of appreciation for magazine editors who have to both work to the monthly cadence of physical magazine publishing and the always-on requirements of digital publishing. It’s a huge effort and so it would have to be either Will Welch or Edward Enninful to see how they do it. 

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think like most people, I am still figuring it all out. That being said, I know I’m more likely to feel good about my work (and life) when I am intentional with my time and build in space for reflection on what is working well and what is not still serving me. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.