Balancing the Grind With Aisling Colley, Group Account Director – ALDI at BMF Australia

Aisling Colley is the Group Account Director at advertising agency BMF Australia, where she leads a team of seven across the ALDI business.

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

My first gig in advertising was as office support at MJW Advertising – an agency (over in the old Fox Studios Backlot) which held the NRL & Hungry Jacks accounts for a seriously long time. It’s where I fell in love with Advertising and where I continually convinced the CEO I wanted to work in Account Management and ended up doing so for nearly 5 years before exploring other Sydney agencies.

Although my experience spans Sport, QSR, Electrical Goods & Financial Services, my passion lies in retail. Working across brands like Stockland, Franklins, BIG W and most recently ALDI. I’ve been with BMF (a full service creative agency) for nearly 8 years and my current role is Group Account Director of ALDI.

I lead a direct team of 7 superstars and guide a group of 60+ BMFers across the ALDI business – and I love it.

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

If I’m not waking up for the gym at 5am, my two year old is typically my alarm clock. I prefer early mornings, it’s when I have the most brain power. These early wake up calls are really the only quality time (outside of weekends), I get to spend with my son. So a quick coffee and some Paw Patrol is how I spend most weekday mornings.

Post that, I get into the office each morning pretty early. I like to get ahead of the day, it gives me time to get head space on the projects I need it for or just to catch up on emails before my team get into the office.

Once the team are in, it’s all systems go!

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

Absolutely. It’s important we operate flexibly (within reason of course). Whether it’s for head space to work on an important deck or rescheduling to work earlier/later in the day in order to accommodate life. As long as it’s works for the people around you and your clients, then there should be no reason why you can’t make it work.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

I’m a little obsessed, I write a list for a list and then another list for that list. I think my latest tactic is post it notes, which typically signals THIS IS URGENT – MUST DO.

Lists don’t help, they actually make me more anxious about all the stuff I haven’t done. So I’ve tried to ditch the lists.

Have a master to do list if you must, but don’t keep re-writing it. Be clear on the main objectives of that week and maybe 3 things to achieve in any one day. Outside of that, throw the lists out.

Focus on one thing at a time and do it well. We’re all guilty of doing too many things at once, and having 4,000 windows open our laptops. That’s when I know I’m busy and not thinking straight.

Catch it when it happens, stop and just focus on one thing.

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

I’m still trying to figure that one out! It changes every week, every month, every year. Depending on responsibilities, life admin and where my son is at with his development.

My philosophy on balance is based on a 4 stove burner actually:

  1. Personal Well Being
  2. Family
  3. Relationship/Friends
  4. Work

You can’t ever have 4 stoves on full heat all the time or you will combust. It is OK to have 1 or 2 on high each week.

For example WORK + FAMILY – it’s a stressful, busy period at work and it needs all your focus, but your demanding toddler who won’t sleep also needs your attention and love.

As such, WELL BEING + RELATIONSHIPS will take a back seat – You may need to sacrifice date night or those 2hr gym sessions and massage to get through it – or perhaps a bottle of wine on a Friday night and a quick walk before work will suffice.

BUT it’s important that you flip the balance the following week.

It’s all about recognising when you’re giving too much to work and not enough to yourself and vice versa.

We can’t spin too many plates at once otherwise we’re not helpful for anyone.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Exercise. It really is one of the most important things for me to achieve success and balance in my life. It clears the mind and makes me feel fit. If I haven’t exercised in any one week, I am lethargic, I overinvest in work, I become down and basically useless. Take the time to protect exercise in your life.

Learn who are the experts – I’m a control freak but I certainly don’t know everything. It’s important to lean on people within your team, your agency, external resources, those who are the best at what they do. Not only will you take the pressure off yourself but you will ultimately deliver the best in class response for whoever needs it.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

To be honest – any book that takes me out of reality for just a moment. Like exercise, it can help clear the head and remove any rumination for a short, but peaceful slice of time.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Sleep. Which is hard with a toddler who doesn’t like it much.

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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.