Balancing the Grind with Friska Wirya, Founder of Fresh by Friska

Friska Wirya is the powerhouse behind Fresh By Friska – a change management consulting, coaching, facilitation and training service for executives, teams and businesses.

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

After my MBA, I cut my teeth in management consulting in the US. I long admired a professor of mine who had spent a lifetime consulting to Fortune 500 companies and trotting around the world. I returned to Australia when the subprime mortgage crisis started to unfold in earnest, I had spent 4 years in LA and noticed desperation and crime shot through the roof. 

Upon return, change management started to be recognised as a discipline. It intrigued me. It played to my strengths. I get bored easily and in the change management arena no two changes are the same – different cultures and subcultures, leaders and types of change. I like diversity – so I took the plunge, taking a 40% pay cut to start from nothing. A lowly change analyst role.

I threw myself into every transformational change initiative under the sun, working my way up with unwavering dedication and laserlike focus. Within 7 years I was the youngest GM of change at the largest gold miner in the Southern hemisphere.

I yearned for more control over where, when and how much I worked, and I didnt want to regret never building something of my own. I started Fresh by Friska 3 years ago, just two months before COVID hit our shores – offering change management advisory and consulting. I have since diversified into online courses, speaking, facilitating, MCing and custom workshops and masterclasses.

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

  • 8am wake up, coffee x 2
  • 820am pilates
  • 930am shower and en route to speak at Digital Transformation Live at the ICC
  • 11am deliver keynote – apparently 5,000 people were at the conference!
  • 1230pm client calls / check ins
  • 2pm networking meetings
  • 3pm submit proposal to large investment bank for change management training for 3 countries 
  • 4pm work on my draft manuscript (my 1st book published in September this year!)
  • 5pm progress Women in Leadership workshop on ‘Unlocking a magnetic personal brand)
  • 6pm sauna time – reflect, rebalance and reprioritise
  • 7pm dinner
  • 830pm review next day priorities, give direction / respond to social media team
  • 930pm read – non-fiction, business or personal development, or articles from Vanity Fair – the last one I read was about the Murdoch empire. Fascinating.
  • 1030pm peppermint tea and wind down 

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

I stick to my morning routine 99% of the time. I’ve always been consistent and disciplined in self-care. 

Work-life balance is about finding harmony between professional commitments and personal well-being. For me, this means integrating work and personal life in a way doesn’t see too many candles being burnt at both ends.

I prioritise self-care and set clear boundaries, dedicating time for activities that rejuvenate and energise me. Whether it’s pursuing hobbies, spending quality solo time, or investing in new friendships, these activities are essential in maintaining my well-being.

To maintain work-life balance, I optimise productivity by focusing on work that’s in my genius zone. I outsource things I hate (or aren’t very good at – e.g. ironing!). I avoid overcommitting myself. And if I am going into a busy period I block out time for relaxation and personal pursuits to ensure the time doesn’t get eaten up with something else.

Communication is vital in maintaining work-life balance. I communicate openly with clients, colleagues, and loved ones about my boundaries and availability, setting realistic expectations for responsiveness. I can count the number of times on one hand when I’ve given access to my diary before 10am in the past year.

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 take regular breaks throughout the day, ensuring that I recharge and avoid burnout – this is easy to forget if you’re on back to back Teams calls or WFH. Remember lockdown? I was glued to my laptop pretty much all day every day. Even weekends.

By stepping away, even if it’s to have a quiet cup of tea in a gorgeous porcelain cup on the balcony, I return with renewed focus and clarity.

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?

Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari.  

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?

 Finding balance doesn’t mean dividing your time equally between work and life; it means giving each aspect the attention it deserves when it matters most.

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.