Lara Gray is the Head of Product & Operations at Good Mood Dudes, a company on a mission to create healthier, happier corporate cultures.
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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 working in digital product development and management for over 15 years in London originally and now Sydney. I’ve been lucky enough to work on both market-leading products and start-ups so have enjoyed a huge range of experiences over the years.
My current role is Head of Product and Operations for Good Mood Dudes. We devise and run corporate wellbeing programs. I’m also working on my own start-up on the side called ConnectCloser which is an app to help couples connect closer to each other though healthy and regular communication habits.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m up before 5:30 every week day whether I’m working in my day-job or not. I try to exercise 3 times a week and early is the only time I can fit that in. I’m into reformer pilates and running at the moment.
Two days a week I take my two daughters (2 and 4) to daycare before work. This involves getting us all in the car to drive them to daycare, driving home and parking up, getting on my bike to ride to the ferry wharf and then getting the ferry to work. These two mornings are very stressful!
My work days consist of meetings with our clients onsite, a lot of communication with various stakeholders to ensure a smooth delivery of our program and head down strategy work to continually improve our product offering to our users.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes and no. My firm is very flexible but the nature of the work means being in the office is required regularly as there is a lot of in person meetings and personal connections are very important.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
Use your commute. My ferry ride is 30mins each way so I use this to work on ConnectCloser or plan my workday ahead when I can. Much more productive that scrolling through Facebook! When I was doing my MBA I used to do all my reading on my commute.
Work out if you’re a morning or night person. I’m hopeless at night time, I’m way more productive if I get up at 5 and open my laptop with a big cup of tea next to me and get straight into it. Exercise regularly, it has to be prioritised. Be conscious of your mental health and take time out when needed.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To me it means both enjoying your time at work and your time outside of work. At work I aim to be 100% present when there and don’t feel obliged to be constantly checking and responding to emails when I’m not.
Outside of work, I aim to make time for family, my husband, exercise, learning and relaxing and ConnectCloser. Some days I achieve that goal better than others! My husband and I have found that planning our week in advance to make sure we both have our ‘turns’ to exercise in the morning helps, as does having an afternoon of ‘me time’ each at the weekend to help us reset and refresh.
Thanks to ConnectCloser we now also spend one evening a week reflecting on our relationship and try to spend one night every other month as a couple, kid-free to reconnect.
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?
- Regular exercise
- Sharing the family stuff with my partner – we’re true partners and equal parents
- Communicate when it’s not going well. People usually don’t know you’re struggling or suffering unless you sit them down and tell them explicitly.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
- The Love Secret: The revolutionary new science of romantic relationships by Sue Johnson
- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
A daily prioritised ‘To Do’ list. It’s always too long but it ensures I get the big stuff done first.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s impossible to do everything well at all times. Accept that. Some days you’ll kick ass at work and other days you’ll feel like you’re just muddling through. The same goes for your personal life and for my start-up adventure.
I’m becoming more aware and accepting of that as time goes by and that means not beating myself up or giving up on the days or weeks where it may feel like I’m not making progress or potentially going backwards! Just keep going, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. And be nice to yourself!
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!