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Balancing the Grind with Ian Fagan, Co-Founder & Director of Skodel

Ian Fagan is the co-founder & director of Skodel, a wellbeing check-in platform for schools, universities and workplaces.

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

I am the founder of Skodel, a wellbeing startup that helps schools and workplaces check-in to understand how people are feeling and the reasons behind those feelings. I have been involved in technology and products for the last 10 years.

Skodel started as an area of passion from my personal experiences with mental health Currently, we have a small team of nine people, so I have to wear many hats, from business development to product. 

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

Wake up at around 6-6:30, have breakfast and then head into the office. My most productive hours are from 7-11 so I usually look to get most of my thinking work done then, which can be responding to emails, putting together collateral or making tricky product decisions.

Lunch is usually 11:30 and then I’ll get back into it around 12:15 and work until my afternoon coffee at 2pm. I find breaking the day up with that afternoon walk and coffee is really important.

Once I’m back in the office I will usually do some less intense thinking work and leave for the gym at around 5. After the gym and dinner I will keep the laptop shut unless I have a meeting but by that stage I am not at my creative best so I try to give my brain a rest rather than force it. 

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

Yes, whilst I go into the office everyday, our team can work from home or the office as they please. I do like it when we are all in the office together as I find it easier to communicate things and build stronger connections with people. It just suits my routine to go into the office and breaks the day up nicely so I can separate home life and work life. 

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

It means being realistic about how many productive hours you have in you each day. It’s all well and good to look busy and have the laptop open but are you really being productive and producing good quality work?

I think we lose that work-life balance when we feel the need to have the laptop open and be ‘working’ when we’re not mentally there.

I understand that sometimes you will have to push through those moments to meet deadlines and do product releases but it can’t be too frequent and that comes down to planning, setting realistic timelines and ways of working. 

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

I have stopped working on multiple things at once. I just don’t think this works and when you have multiple things on the go you can feel really busy but not achieve a great deal. And if you do get things done they are often not to the best standard.

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

Andrew Fuller’s The A to Z of Feelings, James Clear’s 3-2-1 newsletter and Susan David’s work on emotional agility have been great for me. Very much focused on making our emotions work for us and making tiny changes in our lives. I have also started reading David Shein’s Dumbest Guy at the Table book from a business and tech standpoint. 

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

Nothing immediately springs to mind. I have started tracking times/distances for my running so my watch for this is definitely handy! 

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

Andrew Fuller – he has a really great outlook on life and I have learnt plenty from him! 

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

I think as a society we glorify the ‘work hard’ ingredient for ‘success’ far too much. 16 hour days are not healthy or sustainable and we reach a point where we aren’t producing our best work. Try and maximise those times where you are at your creative best. Then, be sure to get the 7 types of rest that you need. 

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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.