Balancing the Grind With Alex Durkin, eCommerce Growth Consultant & Ex-Showpo GM

Alex Durkin is a Growth Consultant for fast growing eCommerce companies and was previously the General Manager for retail brand Showpo.

At Showpo, Alex ran a team of seven executives and oversaw all functions of the company and it’s 100+ employees. She is currently working out of an eCommerce co-working space in Alexandria, Work It Spaces.

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

After finishing an Architecture degree at the age of 20, and not knowing what I wanted to do with my career, I explored many different career options, and came to the conclusion (after a lot of trial and error) that I wanted to get into business.

My first several MVP businesses I started failed, at which point I decided I wanted to see how it was done by working as an operations manager in a start up, which lead me to accepting a role as Showpo’s 2IC when I was 23 (we had 4 staff back then).

Whilst working at Showpo, I continued to build my own businesses outside working hours, and sold my first company at the age of 24. Throughout this time, I’ve been continuously learning and developing my skills in business scaling, strategy, team building, brand building, project management and growth.

Over the last 7 years, I’ve helped build Showpo to 140+ staff and $85M turnover. In 2018 Showpo was named Online Retailer of the Year which was an absolute career highlight for myself. This year I made the tough decision to resign from my position as General Manager and follow my dream of running my own company.

You can read about my Showpo journey here.

Today, I’m working on a number of business ventures across various industries out of an eCommerce co-working space in Alexandria, Work It Spaces. I’m surrounded by like minded people and have the physical space to allow me to succeed.

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

I have decided to split my time across various different business ventures. Each venture gives me something different; a creative outlet, learning a new industry or interaction with people.

My current time split is:

  • 50% solo venture, an online information based product
  • 25% joint venture, in b2b fashion wholesale
  • 25% personal admin / consulting / investment education

My day looks something like this:

  • 5:15am: wake up, get ready, prepare my food for the day
  • 6am: drive to work and brekkie
  • 6:30am: organising, planning & prioritising
  • 7am: 2hrs execution work on my solo venture
  • 9am: 2hrs execution work on my solo venture
  • 11am: 2hrs execution work on personal / consulting / investment education + lunch
  • 1:30pm: 2hrs execution work on joint venture
  • 3:30pm: drive home
  • 4pm: chill time, EFT tapping if I feel like I need it
  • 5pm: gym
  • 7pm: dinner and chill time
  • 9pm: bed

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

Yes it does, I work for myself now which allows great flexibility. I am quite strict on myself in terms of sticking to my routine, however since going out on my own, I’ve made sure I haven’t loaded myself to 100% capacity to allow space for other things in my life.

In my last role, I often felt as if I were over 100% capacity. For example 140 staff depend on me to make the right decisions so they could keep their jobs, as well as always acting as a role model, and socialising and networking on top of that, so it was challenging to make time for myself that wasn’t dedicated to pure recovery from the week.

Now, if I’m feeling overwhelmed, or my head space isn’t right, I work from home, and often prioritise EFT tapping and mediation over my business work. I think when you make a big life transition like I just have, it’s very important to stay aware of how you are feeling, and listen to what your body needs in that moment.

Too often in my previous role I powered through when I should have rested, I’ve now learnt to listen to what I need, and be kinder to myself.

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

On a daily basis, when something doesn’t feel right, I ask myself “where is the balance in this?” Asking that question to me is taking a deep breath and feeling internally for the alignment. You often intuitively know where it is if you take the time to feel for it.

Some days it’s saying: “stay back and get this piece of work out so you can hit your business target” and other days it’s saying “sleep in this morning, your body is exhausted and needs rest”.

It’s about honouring those feelings and staying true to what your gut is telling you. I feel so blessed to have the space in my life now to listen to my intuition and find balance.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Productivity Training

The productivity training I’ve done has been absolutely amazing. It essentially splits out your work into the following categories:

1. Organise

putting all my inbox tasks (LinkedIn, email, Facebook, snail mail etc) that takes longer than 2 minutes into Trello. I have 3 Trello boards, one each for my solo venture, wholesale venture & personal / consulting / investment time.

This stops me having to keep mental stock of any tasks. I have the app on my phone, so if I ever remember something, I add it right away. It’s amazing how much mental space this frees up for me!

2. Plan

Once tasks are in my Trello board, I write the next immediate step for all tasks eg: I don’t just have “find a present for Chris”. In my planning time I decide what that present is, include the link and write “purchase whisky tasting box for Chris from Whisky Loot.”

Once each task has a next direct action assigned, then the tasks are ordered by importance, so that the most important task happens first thing each day. This stops you from prioritising tasks that might be fun, but won’t move the needle on your business growth targets.

3. Execute

This is where the deep work and fast work happens, it’s super speedy once the planning is done. When you don’t have to jump between planning and execution, you gain a lot of efficiency.

There is a link to a summary of some of the theory here.

Doing Life Admin & Personal Tasks in Business Hours

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy personal admin. Paying bills, buying that friends birthday present, working out where my super is, transferring that person money because they paid for dinner the other night, it’s all a chore to me.

I hence put these life admin tasks into my personal Trello board and tackle them during business hours. This means that when I’m done at work, I can truly relax at home and have that time 100% to myself, which allows me to fully recharge.

EFT Tapping

This is an effective therapy my coach has taught me to help de-charge my flight or flight response. I believe we all have limiting beliefs that we are working through, and you will keep being triggered by these beliefs, whether personally, or in business, until you are able to overcome the limiting belief and move forward.

EFT tapping is a technique where you bring up that emotion in your body around that limiting belief, and experience it. The act of experiencing the emotion, feeling it and facing it essentially de-charges it.

So when a trigger appears in your life, you would usually act a certain way, but because you’ve already faced that emotion, you can clearly address the situation without the emotional charge.

I often use this technique to dive deeper into something that doesn’t feel right, and work out where those feelings are coming from. When I clear those emotions and beliefs, I find it a lot easier to find balance.

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

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza. It’s essentially the quantum physics and neuro science behind rewiring the way you think and view the world, paired with a meditation practice to follow.

I believe our external reality is a direct reflection of our internal mentality. I read this book on a holiday in Mexico in an all inclusive resort for a week and did x3 of his meditations a day to shift myself out of a very frustrated state of being.

It was highly effective and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like who they have become or what they are thinking and wants to change their outlook on the world.

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

Planning and prioritising my Trello board each morning to make sure I’m working on the most important things.

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

Lacy Philips – I love her openness with sharing her experiences.

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

Only that I realise that whilst I work for myself now, and have the freedom to create more space in my life to be able to be conscious of finding that balance, I realise that there are probably a lot of readers who don’t have that luxury right now.

So my advice for anyone who feels like they are just trying to keep their head above water would probably be if you aren’t saying “hell yeah” about something, say “no”. If when deciding to do something, you aren’t thinking “wow, that would be amazing, so keen”, say no.

If you’ve taken on too much, saying yes to less is the way out. This will help give yourself that space to find your balance.

If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

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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.