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Balancing the Grind with Amanda McEniry, Head of Marketing at Homely.com.au

Amanda McEniry is the Head of Marketing at Homely.com.au, an online real estate marketplace redefining the way people to buy, list and sell property.

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

I’m Head of Marketing at Homely.com.au. We’re an online real estate search marketplace redefining the way people find their homes. Homely combines real estate listings with unique information about streets and suburbs.

I completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Monash, then worked in a number of advertising agencies. I constantly struggled with overwork, burnout and, towards the end, feeling unfulfilled. I was always more interested in holistic business strategies and branding. 

I ended up moving ‘client side’ and working in financial services. I discovered an untapped passion for finance and property. After working in retail mortgages and online broking for four years, I joined Homely.com.au.

It sounds unbelievable, but my role is as close to perfect as I could have imagined. I work on interesting things with intelligent people in a business with honest values and a burning ambition to succeed. I know how lucky I am.

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

Despite all my best intentions, I am not and will never be one of these people who wakes up at 5am to meditate and drink lemon water. I’ve finally made peace with that. During the week, I’m usually up around 7am. I love my coffee in bed while I get up to speed on work, news, social media and emails.

Monday: I work from home and ease into the week. Mornings are usually WIPs, meetings, and planning for the day. Afternoons are dedicated to deep work. I need solitude and quiet for this.

Tuesday – Thursday: I’m usually in the office. My days are varied: some days are strategy and high-level work with the Leadership team, others are very hands on. I normally wrap up around 6pm, head off for a run, then home to relax. I may or may not log on later, depending on what’s happening. I listen to sleep meditations when I go to bed, which has been a game changer to help me switch off.

Friday: I reserve my one and only early morning wakeup call for Fridays, when I run at the track with my social running club and best friend before heading into the office. That sets my weekend off on the right note. Fridays are also great for seeing lots of faces in our Collins St office and catching up with other teams.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Homely is an extremely flexible work environment and has been long before COVID. The tenure of some of the staff is testament to this.

Flexibility shouldn’t be defined by how many days you’re “allowed” to work from home. If you constantly feel monitored, left out or don’t feel like you can ask a question safely, it doesn’t matter how many days you work from home or remotely, you won’t enjoy the work. 

My role is flexible in that I have freedom to choose how to get the best out of me, and this ultimately benefits the business. There’s no huge pressure to conform to a certain time of day or rigid process here. 

While we encourage face to face interaction especially for ideation or problem solving, we are also supportive of those team members who feel more productive working from home. We’re all here because we’re incredibly self-driven people: if there’s work to be done, we know it will get done.

Homely places a huge emphasis on health and wellbeing and it’s lived and breathed from the top down. It’s definitely the most flexible work environment I’ve ever seen, especially in a tech-driven company.

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

I have always derived a huge sense of accomplishment and energy from my work and learning new things. There has never been a clear delineation between work and life for me. I prefer Jeff Bezos’ description of “work life harmony” instead. 

It sounds woo woo, but my team and I are very open about our energy levels with each other. We try to plan our creative/planning times around each other, and reserve the more administrative or written work for later in the day. We’re too small a team to break under pressure so this keeps us sustainably high-performing. 

I find it hard to switch off and enjoy challenging myself and learning new things, even after hours. The biggest challenge is how I choose to spend my energy to stay balanced. I remind myself that part of being in a leadership role is making sure I bring a well-rested, healthy person to the table. 

I know the red flags of burnout from experience. Here are my go-to rules to prevent it:

  1. Sleep. I prioritise sleep over social activities, sometimes to the annoyance of those around me
  2. Always make time for the things that make me truly happy. Coffee in the morning and dinner at night with my husband
  3. Always make time for exercise. If I don’t have time at night, I’ll run at lunch and shower at work. I need to get it done – it’s non-negotiable and keeps me happy, healthy and alert.
  4. Avoid weekend work unless necessary
  5. No work close to bedtime
  6. Sometimes you just need to completely switch off, or let off steam. Both are OK and you shouldn’t feel guilty.
  7. Work for a company that actually cares about you.

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

I recently discovered timeboxing. After reading Stolen Focus  by Johann Hari, I was confronted by the breakdown of our ability to pay attention. This along with an episode on Idea to Startup on how startup CEOs timebox their productivity, helped me rethink the way I prioritise my time.

I’ve also tried to limit myself on social media these days and even use my iPhone to lock me out after 15 minutes. If I find myself procrastinating, it usually means I need a deadline. So I create my own and stick to them.

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

  • The Hustle newsletter – Awful name but really interesting content
  • A16z podcast is great for finance, tech and startups
  • Idea to Startup podcast – some really good insights and tips that are applicable across the board
  • De Bono – Lateral Thinking. Not going to lie, it’s taking me a long time to read, but it helps me approach problems with a different perspective
  • Calm or Insight Timer – meditation and mindfulness, even for a few minutes a day, can and will change your life.
  • Stolen Focus  by Johan Hari for an eye-opening and confronting read on society’s ability to concentrate. I felt seen!

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I could live without a lot of things but when it comes to productivity and balance, I’m very loyal to Slack, Asana and G Suite. Actually, I can’t exercise without my Garmin!

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

Any working mother in an exec level role. I look up to all women who manage to juggle it all. There’s a lot to be said for the mental load – it isn’t talked about nearly enough.

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

If clocking off at 5pm on the dot isn’t for you but you’re trying to avoid burnout, I encourage you to look beyond the binary “work/no work” paradigm and instead protect and prioritise the important moments in your day. Whether it’s a coffee in the morning with someone, a lunchtime run or a phone-free walk with the dog, make them non-negotiable and stick to them. 

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.