Freelancers / Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind With Claire Mueller, Communications Consultant & Freelance Brand Creative

Claire Mueller is a Communications Consultant and Freelance Brand Creative, providing project based creative brand communications, and helping brands define and refine their messaging to grow, educate and inspire audiences.

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

I’m a strategic creative consultant who works with startups and brands to communicate their purpose.

This means different things on different days, as I’ve had an unusual career path and hold a diverse skill set that spans the design, health and tech industries.

I studied fashion design, working in editorial, advertising and content production as a stylist, then my world paused as I provided hands-on palliative care to my father in 2012.

This fundamentally changed my approach to life, and I was physically compelled to take up running. Through these two experiences I chose to pivot to study physiotherapy and became interested in health communications, identifying opportunities to apply my creative skills to serious topics.

A series of unexpected events took me to London where I worked with startups including innovative sustainable textile Piñatex, social-dining marketplace FeedUp and the London launch team of Airtasker. I moved to Sydney last year and am currently re-establishing freelance life and co-founding a startup of my own.

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

A day in the life is anything but typical, which I thrive on. I might be meeting clients, suppliers or peers to discuss projects, researching a market for a campaign, writing a strategy or designing a set for a photoshoot.

Last week I had to go straight from sourcing props at a mechanical salvage yard to a corporate meeting in the CBD (it can be hard to know how to dress some days)!

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

Yes, absolutely – and very much by design. I need variation and flexibility to do what I do, as wouldn’t be able to maintain a relevant knowledge base without continuously being exposed to different environments, different people and different ways of working.

I also firmly believe in taking learnings from across the board and challenging formats that were designed before we had the technology we do now – the concept of having to sit at a desk 9-5 to get things done is redundant.

Having been freelance for more of my career than not I know there are a few things that keep it functional: routine touchpoints throughout the week help. I run regularly with a crew and ensure this is scheduled as a non-negotiable time commitment.

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

Make notes, keep an organised (digital) filing system, use naming protocols, follow up promptly and delete the bad photos immediately!

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

I’m purpose led, live by a strong set of values and acknowledge that everything I do is by choice. Most of the time I’m fortunate to be able to choose to work on projects that inspire and challenge me, and that have a positive impact on the future.

Sometimes I choose to work on projects that are less personally exciting but will fund the next leap. Regardless, I go into every situation with the same attitude: worth doing, worth doing properly. For me work and life are the same, so I always want to feel comfortable with what my energy is going in to.

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?

An understanding that it’s important to allow time for research, planning, development and administration, as well as just “productive work”. Learning that time is finite helped too – I now prioritise more effectively and am (mostly) able to say no when opportunities aren’t the right fit.

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

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

Get outside. Whether it’s a morning run, part of the commute or an evening stroll making sure I move and spend some time observing the real world every day – super important to balance out the screen time!

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

You never know what’s around the corner. Do it now.

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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.