Designers / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Emily Vernon, Global Experience Lead at Reckitt

Emily Vernon is the Global Experience Lead at Reckitt, where she leads the end-to-end experience for B2B hygiene solutions.

Interested in talking about how you balance the grind? Get in touch with us here!

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

Since graduating from industrial design, I wanted to be an experience lead before it was even a thing.

This meant gathering those skills along the way, whether designing sneakers for Converse, doing trend work for Nike, working with dozens of brands on their physical experiences or sharpening my UX/UI skills after work. 

Luckily, I can combine all those skills as a Global Experience Lead at Reckitt within Business Solutions / Professional. My current role includes looking at all touchpoints, whether pack or website. This is to ensure we are building our B2B brand equity and addressing audience needs across the Reckitt brands.

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

Every day is a mix of catching up, getting ahead and getting sorted. Projects run on different timelines and include internal and external teams.

This means every day looks different, however techniques like Pomodoro help me to stay focused, take breaks and create a rhythm in my differing days.

My mornings are key to getting it all on-track. After waking up with a coffee and checking the weather (even though I work from home), I storyboard the three things to achieve that day. These are ugly little sketches, but the visualisation helps.

Morning meetings are usually scheduled agency catch-ups or virtual coffees. This means I can work during my most productive time on presentations, briefs or feedback.

Most of my meetings are in the afternoon, where I am catching up with different teams on a variety of projects. As key team members are in the Netherlands, UK and the US, this is usually the best crossover of different time zones.

At the end of the day I summarise anything outstanding for the next day. After work is then a negotiation between working out, cooking, errands, coursework or relaxing. 

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

As we are working from home, most of my work is online. Meetings are over video, we collaborate through Miro/Mural and chat on Teams.

This is extremely handy, as it allows for flexible time management and focused work time. I can now spend my most productive hours (in the morning) working versus commuting. 

Of course I realise working from home is different depending on your situation. In my case though, it’s provided me with more energy to even do a course after work. 

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

‘Balance’ suggests harmony and equilibrium. However, my work-life is way more zig-zaggy and ever-changing. I find balance is becoming more seasonal than daily, where some months are more work-focused, and others more relaxed.

On a day-to-day basis, my goal is to create work-life synergy. I want work and life to energise and fuel the other. This means I am frequently evaluating energy levels, use of time and how I feel overall. It’s a work-in-progress as what I know about myself, lifestyle goals and even monthly commitments are constantly evolving. 

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

My productive/creative process changes over time and working from home meant I needed to create more structure. I found that I was task-switching too often, reacting to emails or messages as they came in.

This is why I started to use the Pomodoro technique more consistently, so I could batch tasks together. It helped to structure my time – and sanity.

There was another technique I picked up from Y-Combinator’s Future Founder’s program. This was a weekly summary including key achievements, lessons learned and largest obstacles. I found it to be both helpful to track improvements over time, as well as to conclude the week. Writing it all down helped me to move on quicker from process bumps or project missteps. 

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

  • Eat Sleep Work Repeat is a solid podcast on work culture.
  • Creative Pep Talk is a fun podcast when you need, well, a creative pep talk.
  • Humour, Seriously is a great start on the use of humour in business and life.
  • The Art of Doing Less is a provoking book about redesigning your workload.
  • @lizandmollie on Instagram for work-life comics that seem to read your mind.

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

‘Live without’ is a pretty high bar. I find that I need a notebook or pad of paper to get thoughts out of my head, or work things out quickly off-screen. For whatever reason, I love a gridded notebook, as I can fill in the squares during video calls.

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

Ali Wong, as I’m sure she would make us laugh in the process.

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

Focus on your process over tools. If a perfectly organised Evernote or Notion is just not your thing, it’s fine. If it makes you feel better, I gave up on Notion (gasp) and went back to my gridded notebooks and spreadsheet tracker. It’s not cool, or YouTube-worthy, but works for my process. But who knows, I might give Notion another chance one day.

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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.