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Balancing the Grind with Bridget McDonald, Director at Curatorial: Chocolates

Bridget McDonald is the Director at Curatorial: Chocolates, a curated selection of the most indulgent craft and handcrafted chocolate in Australia, delivered to your door.

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

I started out in the advertising industry and moved into marketing too many years ago to mention.

I’ve worked in various Brand Manager and General Manager Marketing roles including at The Institute of Chartered Accountants, Griffith University, National Safety Council of Australia and National Seniors Australia. 

About 9 years ago I started up an online boutique travel agency that specialised in honeymoons with an experienced travel agent. As luck would have it, we sold the travel business just before the onset of the pandemic. 

Creating a business from scratch gave me a taste for working for myself and I have been dipping my toes into various online business opportunities and consulting gigs. Most recently I formed Curatorial: Chocolates with former colleague, Michelle Wade. 

Curatorial: Chocolates challenge me in many ways, but it is also a labour of love, and is something I’m enjoying immensely. I wear many hats including bookkeeper, marketing manager, website manager, copywriter, and logistics and distribution coordinator. There’s never a dull moment.

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

I have to admit that every day is different and trying to stick to a routine can be a challenge.

I generally start the day somewhere between 5.30 and 6am, getting myself and son organised. School drop off, then get stuck into organising my priorities for the day. With a compact work schedule due to my son’s sports commitments, I ensure I’m very focussed and plan exactly what I need to achieve.

The day usually involves a mix of desk time, phone meetings and a face to face meeting. At least two days a week I spend working together with my co-Director, Michelle. We tend to have one of those days as a strategy and planning day, and the other is what we refer to as a ‘make things happen’ day.

I have family time in the early evening, then do a couple more hours of work later in the evening if required.

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

Owning my own business means I can be the master of my time. This is very important to me as a mother with an 11 year old.

It gives me the ability to arrange my work/life schedule so that I don’t miss any of the important events in my son’s life. If I want to attend something during the day with him, I can do that knowing I have the flexibility to catch up on work commitments when it suits me.

As our business is online, I can work remotely, so I can combine relaxation with work on occasion. As long as I have wi-fi and a laptop, I’m good to go.

I’ve always been a workaholic. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learnt to identify when I’m starting to run on empty, and take some time out, even if it’s just to take a drive to the Sunshine Coast for the day to enjoy lunch by the ocean. I then feel refreshed and I find I gain some clarity on problems or projects I’ve been working on.

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

Achieving a healthy work-life balance means I achieve my important work goals, whilst maintaining a healthy attitude to those goals. If reaching them means sacrificing quality of life or time with my son, family and friends, then I re-evaluate when and how I will achieve those goals.

Holidays are one of my favourite things, so if it means I get to go somewhere, but have to squeeze in some work time, I’ll happily do that.

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

I have never been one to participate in the ‘softer’ disciplines such as meditation. Now I spend 5 minutes a day just giving my mind a rest. I also started one-on-one reformer pilates with a physiotherapist about 12 months ago and it has changed my life.

I have had some joint issues and pilates has changed my posture, alleviated pain and generally strengthened my core muscles. I go at least twice a week and always feel fabulous afterwards.

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

I like to read The Hustle for the latest in e-commerce trends. Moving from the service industry into e-commerce it’s been a real focus for me to stay abreast of the latest trends, statistics and technology in this space.

I also enjoy reading Springwise just to find out what is new and innovative around the world each week. There are some amazing new businesses out there.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

About 2 years ago I started using Headspace for some guided meditation. I tend to start subscribing to these types of things, then quickly lose interest. But I have tried to ensure I stick to 5 minutes of mindfulness a day, just to clear my head, relieve stress and refocus.

I also can’t live without my Apple Airpods. When I go for a walk I just listen to music and tune out from the world for just a while.

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

Probably Emma Welsh from Emma & Tom’s. She started with just an idea and has achieved great success in a highly competitive space. She has demonstrated the ability to adapt and change as the market required. I like to read interviews from successful Australian women, and the learnings they have gained along the way.

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

I’m a ‘list’ person. If it’s not on the list, it tends not to get done. I’ve started putting my relaxation and personal time items into my calendar so they don’t get forgotten or passed over because I’m busy. It’s a great way to make sure you get that little bit of time for yourself. If it’s in the calendar, it happens!

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.