Alex Sinickas is the Founder & CEO at Milkdrop, a company creating breast pump cushions that change the way women feel about pumping.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m an engineer. I’ve worked on projects from natural hazard research in snow avalanches to designing medical devices to improve women’s health postpartum.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Pretty standard: coffee, plan day, intense work in morning, easy work in afternoon, exercise, family, dinner, sleep. We have a family dance party before bed without fail. We let off steam and learned surprisingly good dance moves from our three year-old.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Does non-flexible in-person work exist anymore? Living in country Victoria, most of my work is remote, although I’d love to be able to sit down and speak with more women in person about their experiences postpartum.
It’s also flexible in that my work can happen any time, any place, but I’m old-school about keeping clear boundaries between work and home. I’m better at everything – family, friends, health and work – if I can focus during the time I have in each.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance takes practice and is fleeting. Rather than get too stressed about it, I try to carve off time to enjoy and be grateful for my life and that I’m able to do good things with my work. It doesn’t take much looking around to remind myself how lucky we are, and that gives me balance.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve doubled down on keeping boundaries, because I find it takes less mental load and I’m more relaxed and fun to be around.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Steinbeck for reading. That man mastered the simple sentence. Cautionary Tales for podcasts – great stories on the many mistakes humans have made in history.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Computer, phone, the usual. I’m a little anti-gadgets with most other things though. I still like to write by hand when I can, ask real people for advice and take time to think without my phone. I think products and technology should be designed to exist in the background, gently, calmly and quietly supporting us and the environment.
There are good examples of excellent design out there that do exactly that, but in general I think we have the balance wrong – technology is in your face, interrupts you, hooks you, makes you hyper-efficient in some ways and hyper-inefficient in others, and can make you sad. It’s a hard hole to dig out of, because products, gadgets and apps are also annoyingly useful.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Marie Curie. After that, anyone who fell out of balance the other way from most people – and did too much life, not enough work.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I read somewhere about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which identifies five categories of needs humans desire and are motivated by: basic physical needs (food, water, shelter), safety, love and belonging, esteem (self-confidence and feeling valued), self-actualisation (feeling we are living up to our potential). Perhaps that’s a good lens to view work-life balance by.
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