Balancing the Grind with Deanna Bugalski, Founder & CEO of Suggesterfy

Deanna Bugalski is the Founder & CEO of Suggesterfy, an innovative new social discovery mobile app that simplifies decision-making and enhances the way users discover recommendations within their trusted network.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I was never a “techie” of any form. When I left school I worked in hospitality and retail for many years and then as a make-up artist. I left that career to have my children and all the while moonlighted as a blogger! 

Living in Melbourne, Australia, the Covid lockdowns were incredibly intense. I was locked-down with my three children and doing a terrible job at homeschooling them! It was during this time that I came up with the idea for Suggesterfy.

The world had turned completely online for everything, from food delivery, to even borrowing library books, and what came with that was an enormous increase in social media activity.

I noticed that the online world had become such a negative place,  people were so angry, and they were not just expressing their frustrations but they were tearing perfect strangers down for having differences of opinions, and when anyone turned to social media to ask advice, they were often vilified for even posting a question. 

It was also an intensely difficult time for small business owners. So I used my time in lockdown to research and formulate my idea, and I also learnt to code! 

Suggesterfy is now what I work on full time! 

Suggesterfy is a Social Discovery App For Sharing Positive Suggestions And Recommendations. It’s an application, on your smartphone where you can explore reliable, tried and tested, suggestions from your network. 

The App works by connecting you with your friends and allowing you to ask them any question you may have. They will then be able to answer your question or find someone who can help you out!

Suggesterfy is an app that focuses on community and sharing of genuine information. Whether it’s the best local restaurant, the most engaging book, or a hidden travel gem, you can find anything by using Suggesterfy!

The main idea behind Suggesterfy, is that there is now a better way for people to make choices, thanks to real recommendations from the people they know and whose suggestions and insider knowledge, hold weight with them. 

Suggesterfy launched in November 2022 and is free to download on IOS and Android.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

A typical day! I get up pretty early and make sure I am completely ready to get on with the day before I get my kids up and ready for school. 

Whilst they are having breakfast and organising themselves I drink the first coffee of the day while checking my emails and pinning the important ones to the top of my inbox to go through later. 

After I drop the kids at school I head home and take my Golden Retriever for a walk, using this time to return any personal phone calls.

By this time it is around 10 am and I will make breakfast and then sit at my desk to focus on my work day.

I usually start by reading and responding to all essential emails, completing anything from the day before that didn’t get finished and then it’s a whirlwind of zoom meetings, strategy sessions, report reviewing, data analysis, social media planning, project management and issue resolving until roughly 3pm when I shut the laptop and go pick up the kids from school!

Post school-run, I’ll check emails again, encourage (hopelessly) to get my kids to do their homework and refuse to cook dinner! 

By 6pm, my amazing husband has arrived home, cooked dinner and we plonk on the couch while watching the news and I flick through social media. 

I am usually in bed by 10pm because I have realised that once the whole family is home each day, I cannot do any productive work!

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

My work-life balance is still very much a work in progress! It has probably been my most challenging obstacle since starting my own business. 

I try to establish boundaries by prioritising important work whilst the kids are at school and staying off social media until after they are in bed. 

In the early days of launching Suggesterfy, I found that whenever my responsibilities pulled me away from my professional focus, it led to me feeling stressed and resentful and found I couldn’t be fully present with anything. 

After coming back from a recent family holiday, I made the decision to restructure my priorities. For me this looks like allowing myself some flexibility in my work hours and if I can’t manage to tick off every task on the to-do list, then that’s ok! 

My children recently commented to me that they loved “holiday mum” because I wasn’t always working, and for me that was the realisation that my family also need to see that to achieve work-life balance, taking breaks and prioritising the most important tasks will lead to me being able to be fully present in both my professional and personal world.

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

I have had to! In the early days of my start-up I found myself racing around like a crazy person trying to get everything done and make everyone happy and unfortunately it led to my own unhappiness and burnout! 

So now, as a constant work-in-progress, I try to approach my work life with an element of flexibility. I usually cease working in the afternoons when the kids are home from school so I can be present with them and will catch up on important tasks on the weekends while my family are at sports practices or chilling out. 

Having a very active dog means I get daily exercise but I also try to go to bed by 10pm most nights instead of doom-scrolling Instagram!

I also now use my phone to write down all my tasks, to-do’s, reminders and ideas and it helps that this sync’s to my laptop so it’s all there on my screen when I get the time to focus on work.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Absolutely! I have found many software resources that really support the way I work. These are my most used:

  • Craft – Craft is like my entire office suite in one application. I use it on my phone to take notes and record reminders, I use it on my laptop to create documents and formulate all my planning as everything is able to be filed into different folders and I can easily navigate and source everything I was working on when I get interrupted!
  • xTiles – This program can be used in the same way as Craft, but I tend to use it for all my visual planning and my company HQ. It’s also brilliant for travel planning!
  • TextSniper – My most used app on my laptop. This app creates a shortcut whereby I can copy and paste any text from anywhere, even images, and paste them into anything I am working on. It saves me hours of typing repetitive tasks!

I wish I had more time to read, but when I do I’ll admit I love a good autobiography! 

Podcasts are a huge part of my day as I listen to them when I’m driving my kids around as well as when walking my dog. The podcasts I would recommend are:

  • Mama Mia Lady Start-up Stories – I love to listen to interviews with other successful women who are also navigating work-life balance, so this is right up my alley!
  • Business of Apps Podcast – This a great listen for anyone who is building or marketing an app. 
  • The Small Business Big Marketing Podcast – As someone who doesn’t have a formal background in marketing, this podcast is great to listen to, to hear what has worked for others and to gain ideas. 

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I always loved this quote by Helen Keller: 

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”

Helen Keller may have not been able to see/hear/speak, but she knew the power of community, and without my community I wouldn’t be able to do what I do!

And my own advice that I often share is for anyone with a big idea:

Research, then jump right in! It’s true that you will never know until you try, and you will never fail, you will only learn.

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.