Balancing the Grind with Taylor Harrington, Head of Community at Groove

Taylor Harrington is the Head of Community at Groove, an accountability community for dreamers, doers, movers, and shakers.

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

I help people feel the opposite of loneliness in the world (inside and outside of work!). I’m the Head of Community at Groove, an on-demand motivation and accountability tool for freelancers, business owners, and creatives from around the world. We’re the third place in the palm of your hand (a mobile app!) where you can join a 50-min focus session with up to 3 other interesting humans whenever you’d like to get sh*t done.

I joined the team as the first full-time hire in June 2021 and am proud and grateful to be a part of such an incredible team of humans, creating a community-led product. I’m deeply passionate about making the world a less lonely place, specifically for those who have made the hard, courageous decisions to pave their own non-traditional career paths.

Prior to joining the Groove team, I built powerful learning experiences with best-selling author, Seth Godin. I worked on a small team of six full-time employees in a studio model at Akimbo/altMBA. I wore a bunch of hats and built a ton of projects, most of them were related to storytelling and community. I had the pleasure of working with leaders like Simon Sinek, Steven Pressfield, and Bernadette Jiwa.

My favorite project I ever built in this role was The Emerging Leaders Program. It was a 5-day online leadership workshop for curious thinkers, ages 16-25. It was the cohort I wish I had in college to connect me with other entrepreneurial-minded young leaders.

Across three different sessions, 350 young leaders from around the globe graduated, feeling empowered and prepared to lean into possibility and make change happen. Alumni went on to write books together, start businesses, create podcasts, begin their writing practices, and more.

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

Ha! My days definitely vary, but they always start by hopping into a Groove focus sesh. I grab my cup of coffee and press the big green button on the app to connect with 1-3 other interesting people working from home, paving their own wavy career path. Think freelancers, solo founders, and creatives with a bunch of projects.

Every Groove is 50 minutes long, so I spend the first bit catching up on Slack (we’re a remote-first team so there’s usually a lot of updates when I sign on), taking a look at my to-dos for the day, and getting started on whichever task is either top priority or I’m in the mood to do.

As a community leader at a growing start-up, I usually don’t know exactly what I’m working on until Mondays when I plan my weekly sprint with a few team members (although I do keep a bank of potential tasks for next week and add to it as ideas come up throughout the week). During that one hour call, we align on what we learned from last week, including the community feedback we received, and decide how to best prioritize new project ideas.

Some tasks I do regularly:

  • Write the Groove community newsletter
  • Add good vibes in the community Slack channel
  • DM new Groovers on the Groove app
  • Shoutout Groove in conversations on Twitter
  • Update email flows with new copy

But, a lot of what I do is experimenting with new ways to activate and retain Groovers (help them feel ready to jump into their first Groove and warm and fuzzy to stick around). You can catch me doing brainstorms on Figjam boards with teammates, planning for our monthly Goal Planning Party, or recording a podcast interview.

At 4:50pm, I get a reminder in Slack to start winding down the work day. I pre-set this months ago and am so glad I did. Sometimes I keep working until 5:30 or 6pm, but it does get me in the zone to wrap up.

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

I like the framing of work-life harmony even better than balance. Balance feels like they’re constantly in competition with one another. I’m grateful that I get to do work that’s so in line with who I am as a person that these two things, work and life, blend together more than separate. Still, boundaries help keep that blend feeling good.

As a community leader, it’s pretty cool that I have a job where my soft skills are so valued and, as my grandma likes to say, I get to make friends for a living. What’s tricky about this work sometimes is that it is so identity-based. It’s not uncommon for friends of mine to also be members of the Groove community or for me to host events for non-work related groups and have it feel a little bit like planning an event for work.

Before community was part of my job, hosting gatherings was pure fun for outside of work Taylor. Now that I do it for work virtually or IRL, it does take on a bit of a different meaning. It’s hard to turn off my community leader’s brain when I’m sending out reminders for my birthday party for example, because I know (from lots of practice in my work) how to write a good event reminder message.

One thing I’ve been working on over the last year is being more intentional about participating in more events outside of working hours instead of leading them. This way, I can enjoy the shared experience and take inspiration from it without having to totally have my community builder hat on. This also looks like refraining from telling everyone I know about cool things I want to attend.

As a natural gathered and connecter, I’m learning it’s ok to not tell everyone about events I attend and keep some activities just for me to enjoy solo or with one friend, so that I don’t end up being a participant who knows a dozen people there and can maintain a “fly on the wall” vibe.

I’m definitely not alone in wanting to participate more as a way to replenish energy. To be honest, it’s one of the reasons why so many of my community leaders and folks who facilitate often are flocking over to Groove — no one leads a Groove session, there’s a structure of passing the mic that everyone simply follows. So, folks who typically lead calls and what not sorta feel ‘off the clock’ while Grooving!

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In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Journaling. For the first time in my life, I have a journal. When I first started journaling in Spring 2022, I wrote three pages every single day, inspired by The Artist’s Way.

I didn’t skip a day for months, until I did and then, I realized how easy it was to fall out of the habit, especially without the daily support of an accountability buddy that I had when I originally started. Today, I don’t journal daily, but I know that I always feel better when I do, so I’m getting back into the habit.

I’m also a big believer in keeping my phone out of my bedroom. That one started about 18 months ago when I bought an alarm clock and it’s truly changed my life. So much so that I even bought a foldable alarm clock last month so I never have to travel and use my phone as my alarm again.

Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I used to never read. Like many people, I discovered reading as a way to escape during the pandemic. Something to do that helped me dream of another reality, to hope for the day that I’d travel again and have fun dinner parties like the characters in books.

I went from reading a couple of books a year (usually business books) to 30 books in 2022. I’m still shocked and really proud of myself. I would have never pictured myself sitting down long enough to just be still and read, but it’s one of my favorite things to do now and Goodreads makes it fun to track when I’ve been reading and see what my friends recommend.

A few recent favorites:

  • The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • The Power of Ritual by Casper ter Kuile

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

Is it cheating to ask for a duo? Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy. I love the way they tell stories, relieve stress, and make people feel less alone through their doodles. They’re one of my favorite Twitter follows. I just bought their book Big Feelings and can’t wait to dig in.

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

It’s all a work in progress. No one has it totally figured out, even the people who look like they do. For me, the key has been figuring out what can be in my toolbox for when my work life harmony is out of whack.

Yesterday, I did some seriously deep work, for more hours than normal. I got into a zone and kept rolling with it. Last night, I was exhausted. And, I knew I needed to replenish my energy. So, this morning I gave myself a slow morning.

I read a bit (currently reading The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai), made a smoothie, stretched, did a longer skin care routine than normal, put on a cute (and comfy) outfit, and lit a candle. I put my phone away and didn’t open my computer until 10am to start work.

These are all things in my toolbox that help me find that harmony, and today, I leaned on a bunch of them. Figure out what’s in your toolbox. A friend recommended diamond painting to me and that’s been a recent fun activity for replenishing my energy.

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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.