Freelancers / Interviews / Journalists / Writers

Balancing the Grind With Milly Stilinovic, Freelance Journalist, Copywriter & Author

Milly Stilinovic is a Freelance Journalist, Copywriter and Author, whose work has been featured in titles such as Forbes Magazine, TIME, BBC, Nine News, Amnesty International, Woman’s Day, Cosmopolitan, Cleo, and more.

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

It depends on what time of day you ask!

But, first and foremost, I am a freelance journalist and a copywriter who occasionally teaches and lectures at Sydney University in the fields of Media (production, social media), and Media Politics and Political Communication.

Two years ago, I founded We Are Writers which bands a myriad of merry writers who use their expertise to bring a brand’s story to life through the application of the written word.

Before embarking on a full-time freelance career, I experienced television news presenting and magazine editing.

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

On a good day, you’ll see me up around seven, sipping coffee, watching and reading the news, before I exercise (I find it helps keep me zen). There’s breakfast, phone calls, and then I sit down to tackle my deadlines.

On a bad day, you’ll see me working from 6 am and not getting out of my pyjamas till 3 pm due to super tight deadlines. The coffee cools, the toast gets soggy. No one said it was glamorous, but the job always gets done.

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

Given I work freelance, most of my contractual/commissioned writing work is both remote and flexible. This requires the utmost respect for discipline and time management.

If you’re disciplined (rolling deadlines will undoubtedly help with that!), and you know how to stick to timings, working remotely can often put you in the driver’s seat in term’s of setting your hours and carving out time for life’s small pleasures.

I say “often” because, being freelance means you are your own business, and that means that sometimes there’s no one else but yourself to rely on.

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

I place a lot of emphasis on the “production” stages of my life.

Each night, I write a to-do list. Each morning, I put each task through the old Eisenhower matrix. Responsibilities and commitments that are urgent and important get done first. Things that can wait another day are moved down in the schedule or bumped.

The most pressing tasks are then put through the ‘how much focus do I need for this?’ lens. Tasks that need my upmost creativity, or have a focus on critical thinking, get done first (when my brain is at its freshest). Passion projects or prep for tomorrow’s work can get done in the evening.

Lastly, particularly in busy periods, I try to look after myself. Eat well, sleep as best as you can, learn to engage in self-care. It helps both your mind and body keep up!

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

To me, work-life balance is a scale, rather than a day-to-day endeavour.

What I mean by that is — given that my type of work involves periods when the pressure cooker is on the highest setting, followed by short ‘off-seasons’ when the pressure eases — I look at work-life balance as a barometer.

I accept that the scale will occasionally tip in favour of work (meaning that important elements such as being social or having time for things that I enjoy, will be limited or non-existent). I also accept that there will be quieter times when I do get to indulge and experience life outside of work.

So long as the scale stays balanced, or tipped towards living a pleasurable and rewarding life, then (in my eyes), I have achieved balance.

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?

I am learning to say ‘no’. This was something I struggled with for a long time because I didn’t understand what it meant.

Nowadays, it means taking responsibility for the quality of your life and learning to say no to opportunities when you’re away on holidays, to clients who try to undercut your value, to an event if you’re not feeling your best.

The second element is to learn to delegate. You can’t do it all, no matter how much you think you can. This involves creating lasting relationships and being able to trust others.

Prioritise. Even if something is bothering you, you have to learn to say to yourself ‘I promise, I’ll let you think about this in an hour, but right now you have this important thing you need to finish!’

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

I’m an avid reader, but I don’t get much from self-help books. Instead, books (especially bios) help me uncover untapped inspiration or ways of looking at life/work differently.

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

Again, this boils down to acceptance. I have learnt to accept that you might have an ideal image of what your day should look like but, more often than not, things will happen that will throw a spanner in the works.

I feel that being accepting of these challenges and obstacles allows me to be resilient. Being resilient can help you keep a level head, stay focused, and get the most out of your day.

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

Yes. Be kind to yourselves. As mentioned, sometimes you’ll have your days when you can take everything in stride, and other day’s, you’ll be eating soggy toast due to being faced with a seemingly endless pile of tasks on your desk.

It’s OK. No one is perfect, and no one has it figured out. Just try to make sure the ‘net worth’ of your life still tips in favour of a joyful and meaningful experience, not an endless grind.

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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.