Editors / Freelancers / Interviews / Writers

Balancing the Grind With Eleanor Aldridge, Editor, Writer & Digital Content Specialist

Eleanor Aldridge is a writer, editor and digital content specialist based in Paris and the author of Paris: A Curious Traveler’s Guide.

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Photos credit: Becca Gerbino

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

I started my career in publishing in London working for Rough Guides at Penguin Random House for six years, then went on to specialise in digital content strategy. I’ve since worked in-house with brands including loveFOOD and Eurostar alongside writing for publications such as The Telegraph, Culture Trip, AFAR and Time Out.

My professional and personal passions are travel, food, spirits and wine. I’ve trained as a professional chef and with the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust).

I moved to Paris two years ago. I’m currently freelance and working with travel, food and wine clients as well as writing and editing.

My first book, Paris: A Curious Traveler’s Guide, has been published by the Countryman Press this month. It’s an insider’s guide without pretension, curated to offer a fresh approach to visiting the “city of love” by spotlighting the best little-visited museums, bistros and bars.

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

No workday is the same at the moment. I try to start with an early run in Buttes-Chaumont, the most wild and beautiful park in Paris, at least a few times a week. Then it’s coffee, emails and setting out a plan for the day.

I’m either based in co-working spaces or at home, depending on my schedule. If I’m focused on an in-depth article or project, my day will be mostly desk-bound. Other days I might meet a client in the morning, test a restaurant’s lunchtime formule for a feature, then check into a hotel I’m reviewing in the afternoon.

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

My work is very flexible at the moment. I know I’ll go back to an in-house role in the future, so I’m making the most of the freedom and the variety of projects.

That’s meant filing copy before a day exploring Grand Teton National Park on a three-week trip to the US and working from a beachfront cafe in Barcelona. It takes discipline, and my schedule is pretty jam-packed, but the rewards are worth it.

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

The work-life balance is significantly better in Paris than in London. It’s one of the reasons I chose to live here. French work culture is far more complex than the clichés about long lunches and grandes vacances would have you believe. Above all, it’s possible to be incredibly passionate about a career but not completely defined by work.

The creative and tech scenes are thriving, but lack the aggressive competitiveness I experienced in London. Daily life is less rushed: you take the time to sit down for a coffee rather than drink it on the metro; it’s rare for office days to start before 9.30am; and you’re much more likely to hear politics than gossip discussed over lunch.

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?

The key to achieving success? Working with people who inspire you, trying your best in turn to support those around you, and choosing a career that you love.

In creative fields, building a great network is important. That can simply be finding other freelancers to work alongside (even if you have very different specialisms) or a wider collaborative community where you can share ideas and insights.

Day-to-day, it comes down to organisation. I tend to have two “to-do” lists. One is in a notebook and covers top-level monthly goals and weekly plans. I keep small tasks – a meeting to prep for, a new tool to test, an email to write – in Google Keep so I don’t lose sight of overarching strategy and direction.

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

I read a lot of memoirs; I tend to take inspiration from accounts of real lives.

Mason Currey’s two Daily Rituals books – charting the daily routines of everyone from Agatha Christie and Charles Darwin to Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso – are fascinating. Even if Proust’s morning diet of opium and croissants isn’t something I plan to emulate.

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

I tackle the things I’m least excited about first: usually admin, difficult emails or (never-ending) French paperwork.

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

I’d like to see more interviews with women in leadership positions that don’t make childcare and family the sole focus. And more interviews with men who have taken shared parental leave or embraced flexible working.

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

Don’t get too caught up in wondering if you’ve “got it right” and forget to enjoy yourself. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to work-life balance – and I’m sure my philosophy will evolve over time.

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.