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Balancing the Grind with Daren Lake, Audio Content Manager at Metigy

Daren Lake is the Audio Content Manager at Metigy, who also works within the intersection of audio production, podcasting, health, fitness, technology, and self-help culture.

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

I’m what I call myself a “jack of all trades” master of some (what my podcast is loosely based on).

I’ve done it all over the last 20 years from;

  • Audio/music production and performance with Gotye, Kid Cudi and Benny Blanco (past life)
  • DJing across the world at festivals with Diplo, Calvin Harris and Justice (past life)
  • Music group manager & music venue booking manager and marketer (past life)
  • Bespoke Audio Advertising Producer for Spotify, Soundcloud, and Pandora (previous/current)
  • Video presentation and production (current)
  • Podcast Production – audio documentary and narrative deep dives (current)
  • Content Marketing specialist (current)
  • Writer (current)
  • Endurance sport, fitness and health expert (current)

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

Recent workdays always start with the morning routine. This consists of meditation, mindfulness, breathing, journaling and reading. Anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes depending on the day. I don’t try to quantify this as I do enough in my life. The goal is just to show up.

I then look at my daily task list and filter through emails in less than 3 minutes. I put things into different priorities folders/tags. This allows me not to get stuck in email hell and start my day off on a negative note. If something is urgent (rare) I will action it, but that’s rare. 

I then do my daily social media posting for my endurance sport brand (DLake Creates on Instagram). I’ve found this is the best time to day for my audience AND it allows me to not get stuck in social media hell (yes this is a thing too) where I just waste time scrolling and messaging people.

Eat.

Then I do some sort of physical activity that lasts between 30min – 75 mins, which right now is focused on running and strength training. I don’t own a car and live close to everything so I run/walk/cycle to everything and get even more movement. Movement is the key to life and my ability to focus on a million things.

Eat again.

Then it’s work time. I have my week planned out about 10 days in advance and at each end of the day I adjust my schedule to adapt to whatever gets thrown my way (life does that to most people). So I have a clear vision from earlier that day of what to do. I always try to put in deep work tasks (high priority/high brain intensity/creative work) earlier in the day. I’m freshest from 8 am – 11:30 am so I work with that.

Eat again (on hard training days I’m eating about once an hour until 12pm lunch).

I then do a review of what I got done, what needs to be moved to later today and meetings (I try to schedule most meetings after 12pm).

12 pm – 5 pm is just a mixture of meetings, emails, slack messages and other random bits and bobs. I’d love to do more creative deep work in the afternoon but in my role/life right now it’s impossible. Maybe later, haha. I also eat one more time around 3-4 pm. Small snack though.

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

Yes. It’s great. Metigy really helps me with this as a tech company. It fits in extremely well.

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

It’s critical but for me, it’s only one-sided. I am constantly searching for optimising this ratio. The problem is that I have a lot of fun with most of my work and I have to step away from it to do other necessary things in life. Things like life administration, paying bills, hanging out with the family, etc. 

So rather than striving for just a work-life balance, I strive for priority (the other side).

I can have a life priority, a work priority and a fun priority. But I can only have one priority usually at a given time. Doesn’t mean life is more important than work, etc. It just means I need to prioritise.

Example – Paying a bill when it’s due is a priority over everything else as the due date approaches. If I don’t I’ll have to pay a penalty rate if I don’t. So all the work and fun stuff in the world is second priority to that.

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

Email management and discipline. 

Piggybacking on the last answer, I stopped answering emails that weren’t a priority. The 2-5 minutes to answer emails that were important but not a high priority was causing a lot of stress. 

Remember 5 minutes times 10 emails is 50 minutes. That’s an hour each day answering whatever emails come in.

My email system helps a lot with that but like any system, you have to keep using it and tweaking it for it to be valuable and work (ie: give me less anxiety, haha)

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

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

  • To Doist integrated into Google Calendar (game changer)
  • Pocket (you can move blog posts to your own curated feed with tags, etc. This allows me to read interesting things that I see usually on email later at the time I can focus on it.  It also has a speech to text that is great to get through some longer articles or more articles faster. This doubles so that I don’t get stuck in email hell.)

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

Derek Sivers.

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

Again, I think work-life balance is great but from new studies, it might be one part of a larger picture or spectrum. 

My biggest change in mentality has been a priority. And at any given time you can only have one priority. 

If I’m working on something that is the priority. If I’m playing with my family or cleaning my house, that is the priority.

Once you focus on the priority for the hour, day, week, month it gives more clarity. It’s a hard choice a lot of the time because you want to do other things but they aren’t priorities.

People like to have multiple “priorities” but that’s not possible.

Ironically enough, priority comes from the word prior, which means to come before something else. A priority is the concern, interest or desire that comes before all others.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.