Designers / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Millie Cooper, Designer & Founder at Design By Mouse

Millie Cooper is a Designer & Founder of Design By Mouse, a graphic & web design agency. She has been nominated for Telstra Business Woman of the Year two years in a row.

This conversation is brought to you by HelloFresh, delivering delicious ingredients and simple recipes straight to your doorstep each week. Save 40% off your first HelloFresh box with Balance The Grind.

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

I’ve been a freelance graphic and web designer for over 11 years. I am based in Sydney, Australia and have clients both here and overseas. I am currently the owner of Design by Mouse and Head of Design.

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

Generally wake up around 7am, go straight to my laptop and check all emails that have come in overnight. Action all of those emails to make sure all information / designs are in my clients inboxes before they get to their desk.

I then shower, start the day and breakfast. Around 10am, I have found that most emails start coming in from clients. I’ll then monitor and action all emails / designs throughout the day. Work won’t stop until around 9pm (but sometimes it can go all night or if it’s a quiet day, then it will be around 5pm).

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

I can work anywhere that has WiFi and electricity. I love my job for that reason. With today’s globalisation, I have endless opportunities to travel and work around the world.

I have travelled and worked remotely for a few months at a time the last few years. I was worried about the time zone being so different for example in London, however it worked perfectly.

I would wake up while Sydney was just clocking off so I knew exactly how many emails had come in and then could go and enjoy my day as soon as I had finished that set number. It was brilliant.

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

I will always work on the weekend or late into the night to make sure I’m up to date. This means work doesn’t become overwhelming and start to pile up.

Once you let a few jobs pile up, it can start to go downhill rapidly so keep on top of everything and you’ll find everything more manageable.

Try and be as organised as you can. Schedule meetings on the same day so you can have days where you don’t have to leave the house / office and can knuckle down and pump out a lot of work.

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

Work-life balance = enjoying time with your family and friends whilst still having a great career. I use to work from 7am till 2am without seeing friends, family etc – I would get takeaway and sit at my desk working the whole time. I was unhealthy, unhappy and my life was work.

I decided this is not how I want to live my life so I implemented changes on which jobs I undertook, smarter ways to communicate, broadened my service offering to clients through contractors and more. This meant that I could still earn what I wanted but less time in front of the computer.

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

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

  • Assess my emails before bedtime to work out how many hours are involved in the morning.
  • Get up early to make the most out of the day.
  • Schedule some YOU time.

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

You only live once. Make sure work doesn’t take over your life. Build your business to a level that means you can step back and you’re not doing every single job, e.g. outsource accounting to an accountant, etc.

If you’d like to support Balance the Grind’s mission to promote health work-life balance to a global audience, you can join our Patreon membership for as little as $1 a month.

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.