Balancing the Grind with Amanda Stockwell, President at Stockwell Strategy

Amanda Stockwell has been working in user experience research and design since 2008, and is currently the President at Stockwell Strategy.

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

I’ve been in UX about 12 years and worked in nearly every iteration of UX job: small startup, large enterprise, agency, individual contributor, executive, and now I run a little practice of my own.

I offer usability assessment, user research, and product strategy services and training to clients of all kinds. I also teach on LinkedIn.

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

No day is the same, especially in the midst of the current pandemic, but I typically have anywhere from 2-5 projects at a time in various stages. I bounce between the individual tasks I’m working on for each, managing clients and administrative stuff, and any other tasks, like working on scripts for my next courses.

I’ve worked primarily from home for several years, so I have an office set up and an established routine. I’ll get up, walk my dog with my husband and often our neighbors, then I dive into my day.

To keep organized, everything is in my calendar, whether it’s a meeting with a client, conducting research or analyzing data, or dedicated time to review certain items or work on writing, or even personal stuff.

Today I had a status update meeting, a project strategy discussion, I worked out, I met to talk about my next online course, and I reviewed some material for an upcoming diary study I’m helping organize.

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

The whole reason I work for myself is that I can work from anywhere, any hours I choose, so long as I fulfill my obligations to my clients.

I’ve worked primarily from home for several years, and until recently also frequently traveled to visit clients onsite and attend conferences or other events.

I’ve found that either way, I try to stick to a similar routine of sleeping and eating and use my calendar to really manage getting everything done – from the biggest event to smallest task, I try to put everything on my calendar.

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

Left unchecked, I would work myself into a hole – the balance I need is to remind myself that I don’t always have to be pushing at my max, and that in fact I’ll do a better job when I take time to reflect and recharge. I’ve always loved to exercise and that is a way for me to feel centered and connected to my body, and I’ve really been prioritizing social time and connection as well.

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

On a whim, I started listening to a podcast about the science of happiness, and was fascinated by the lies we tell ourself about what will make us happy and function well. There was a lot of compelling evidence to meditate and practice mindfulness – not things I’m traditionally great at, but I’ve been trying to learn and incorporate more of.

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

Yes! I’m a podcast junkie and like lots of different things. Recent favorites include Revisionist History, Invisibilia, 99% Invisible, Hidden Brain, and The Happiness Lab. The Happiness Lab also has a free corresponding Coursera course – The Science of Well-Being – that I’ve been recommending to everyone!

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

Lately I’ve been leaning heavily on my Les Mills On Demand app, which is digitized versions of the fitness classes I teach and attend in real life. I used it when I was on the go and not close to my regular gym anyway, but with the recent pandemic, it’s been a real life-saver.

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

There isn’t one particular human I have in mind, but I’m fascinated by the stories of everyday people and how they find balance, especially if they have a family. I recognize that I can run in a bit of “tech bubble,” and I’m curious to know more about those in other types of roles.

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

Stay well, take care of yourselves, and take care of each other. The world will only get better if we act better.

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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.