Designers / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Erin Chung, Senior Interactive Designer at Corra Techonology

Erin Chung is a New York-based Senior Interactive Designer at digital agency Corra Techonology, where she’s working on website redesigns.

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

I am a Senior Interactive Designer at Corra Techonology, I have been working in this field for more than 9 years now.

My current role requires me to think in terms of both UX / UI in my approach to web design. My most recent projects are redesigning and structuring e-commerce base websites to improve it’s UX and UI for their existing and new customers.

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

I have been working for Corra for about 5 months now. I got hired during the pandemic so I can’t really compare how my work life changed before the Covid era, but one great thing about my current company is that they have great ‘remote work culture’, even before the pandemic started.

Most communication is swiftly managed through slack and meetings through Zoom, and people are very quick with their responses. I find communication is a key to successful online work culture.

Currently I am managing 3 different projects at the same time, so I try to divide my day into how many hours I am allocating for each project. I always try to prioritize my projects so that I can control my time better.

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

It works great, because… my work is mostly done solo, requiring deep focus and creative research and execution on my own.

When I do need to have a discussion with my colleagues or have a creative brainstorming, I hop on a Zoom call with my colleagues who live in different countries or cities to connect about the project.

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

To be quite honest, I was never really good with it. But it got even more difficult when the pandemic hit. Whereas when I used to go into the office, leaving the office at 6pm meant that I would almost never check my emails, but now with the new remote work setting, ‘home’ became work and life.

I started to realize I need to have a better work-life balance, and started to prioritize things that have to be done that day, and projects that can wait. Even if an offshore developer would message me about a huge concern at 9pm, unless it is something that needs to be handled immediately, I would wait until tomorrow AM to get on it.

However, sometimes I myself am guilty of sending messages or work to review at late hours of the day. But what I like about my current company is that we might be sending emails at wee hours, but we don’t expect any response until the normal work hours.

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

I do not have a type A personality, which is good at times, but it’s hard to manage my time and schedule because I like to go with the flow and tackle projects based on what I feel like doing.

I’ve found that having a detailed daily itinerary – like down to what time I’m having lunch and even fitting in a super quick home workout – helps me get things done much more efficiently.

It doesn’t always end up being exactly as planned, but it definitely always falls closer to my planned timeline. And also, it always feels so good to cross off the task when the task is done!

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

I love podcasts because time is something I have hard time managing, and always running from this project to that errand. Podcasts are a great way to learn a variety of new things while doing chores, brushing my teeth, or cooking.

I generally listen to:

  • David Asprey Bulletproof Radio, for the betterment of physical, mental, spiritual health.
  • Freakonomics Radio, to learn about different ways to think, or to question the status quo.
  • Sam Harris Making Sense, a great guide to understanding the mind, and being open minded to new ideas.

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

I meditate on a close to daily basis, and use the app called the ‘Insight timer’ a lot. I like it because it gives you the option to filter through over 50K free meditations by duration and goal, for specific optimizations like mood and sleep, and have lessons that are guided or just music for when you need a little extra inspiration.

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

I think a lot of times, work life balance also comes down to being able to know and manage your priorities, and ability to say ‘no’. I once heard an interview from the author Derek Silvers, where he talks about the art of saying No and that ‘Lack of time means lack of priorities’.

As a people-pleaser, I struggle at times to say no. Silvers talks about how most of us say yes to too much stuff, and how “busy” quite often equals “out of control’.

It was funny when he said: ‘Every time people contact me they say, “Look, I know you must be incredibly busy.” I always think like, “No, I’m not” because I’m in control of my time. I’m on top of it.’ That was refreshing to hear.

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

I am a homebody and also an introvert, so work from home has been great for me and my overall energy level. However, when it comes to online meetings, it is not always easy for an introvert like me to participate more actively, especially when there is a big group on the call.

That’s compounded because the non-verbal communication cues are dulled versus in-person meetings which gives plenty of opportunity for awkward interactions, people talking over one another and the dreaded overly long pause.

I did some research to be more engaging in online meetings as an introvert, and found that just changing your state can help with the level of engagement or how one feels about the call itself.

There is a famous TED Talk from Amy Cuddy about how changing our posture can literally increase our mental state by boosting our testosterone level. Just by doing 2 minute of this exercise can help us be less timid and more confident in online meetings.

Second, just doing a basic outline preparation on what you would like to go through during the call can immensely help with the level of engagement.

We are all adjusting to this new work from home life, and we just have to keep learning and improving ourselves to adapt to the new ‘Future of work’.

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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.