Designers / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Jake Deakin, Senior Product Designer at InVision

Jake Deakin is. a Senior Product Designer at digital product design platform InVision, where he works on the Craft and Web Prototyping team.

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

Of course. I’m a Senior Product Designer on the Craft and Web Prototyping team at InVision. At InVision we are building a platform that gives teams everything they need for digital product design and development, all in one place.

Prior to moving to America and joining InVision, I lived in Australia and designed enterprise accounting software at MYOB, and a patient outreach app at Austin Health.

Before pivoting into digital product design, I worked as an industrial designer where I had the opportunity to design private and commercial aircrafts at COMAC, medical equipment at Charlwood, ATMs at Pragma, and lectured 3D modeling at RMIT University.

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

Absolutely. My alarm is set for 7:30am, but generally, my puppy (@marlothemini <- shameless plug) wakes me up at around 7am.

I start my day at the dog park with an iced coffee and aim to get to my desk by 8:45. I use the first 15 minutes of my day planning what I want to achieve over the day.

Around 9am I get to work on my highest priority of the day and grind on this until around 11am, as the majority of my direct team is located on the west coast I am blessed with a few hours of undisrupted focus time.

Around 11:30/12 I start to lose energy and become lethargic, at this time I head out to the local deli to grab some food and fresh air.

I like to open up my afternoons for collaboration. On a normal day i’ll use this time for project-specific meetings, customer interviews, collaborating with my product & engineering partners, reviewing work, planning sprints, and more.

At 5-6pm I’ll finish up for the day. The first thing I do after work is exercise, you can find me running with Brooklyn Track Club, at my local gym, or playing football with my team GBFC. After some ‘me’ time, I’ll head home to grab my puppy and finish the day watching the sunset from the dog park.

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

Yes! I work 100% remotely as InVision is a fully distributed company. As an easily distracted introvert with some serious FOMO issues, working remotely has had a huge impact on my productivity.

One of my all-time favorite things to do is to work in the sunshine of the local park while my puppy runs around chasing the squirrels and playing in the leaves. It’s the little things that make me really appreciate the experience.

Outside of that, if I’m not required to be at my laptop for a meeting, I’ll often take the meeting while walking around the block. It’s a game-changer.

Contrary to the above, when I started working remotely I really struggled with how isolating it was. I deal with this by getting outside and socializing after work. I’ve found that when prioritizing socialization it balances out the isolation of being on your own all day.

All in all, the extra flexibility has allowed me to live a life that I’ve defined. I find this both productive and fulfilling.

Readers if you’re interested in learning more about remote work, InVisions blog Inside Design has an entire section dedicated to it.

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

To me, work-life balance isn’t a state of complete equilibrium. I like to have a little sea-saw action. I prioritize what’s important to me and make sure I have time to do what I love.

With that, I really love what I do and that means I spend a lot of my ‘life’ time doing things centered around work or continued learning.

My personal life isn’t all work though. I try to balance my time by using a single calendar for both work and funtivities. With this, not only do I get a holistic view of my commitments, I can constantly analyze and evaluate my priorities.

I’m also a huge fan of Slack’s ‘Do not disturb’ feature, I have it automatically set up to turn on from 6pm-8am. It’s not uncommon for me to check Slack during this time, but by nuking my notifications I tend to check it on my own terms, rather than with every notification received.

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

Yes! I recently stopped cooking lunch and started buying it, for me, it’s been a game-changer. Buying my lunch forces me to get outside for a walk and some sweet, sweet vitamin D.

Alongside that, it gives me a chance to zoom out, reset, and rethink my priorities for the afternoon. It also means that I can’t cut my lunch break short as heading out to grab food takes time.

Another change of late has been scheduling workouts. Scheduling the time to workout means that I’m committing to it as a priority, it means that I don’t need to ‘find the time’ which often results in me deprioritizing it.

I also found other unexpected benefits such as a more balanced and consistent schedule, more impactful rest days, and a better commitment to scheduling other things in life.

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

Most definitely!

Books – ‘Universal Principles of Design’ by William Lidwell, ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ by Steve Krug, ‘Good Strategy / Bad Strategy’ by Richard Rumelt, and ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari.

Podcasts – ‘Design Better Podcast’ by InVision, ‘How I Built This’ by Guy Raz, ‘Layout’ by Kevin Clark & Rafael Conde, and ‘Designing Your Life’ by Dave Evans & Bill Burnett.

Newsletters – ‘3-2-1 Thursdays’ by James Clear, ‘Muzli’ by InVision, and ‘Another Design Newsletter’ by Pablo Stanley.

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

I absolutely love stands/holders/tray to keep my desk surface clean and tidy. I find that decluttering my desk makes my workspace feels much more peaceful and that has downstream effects on my mindset.

Another product I love is my Bose QC 35’s. There are two things I love about these headphones:

  1. The noise-cancellation – This allows me to work from anywhere distraction-free.
  2. The sound quality – I’m a big music nerd and the audio quality on these headphones is not too shabby

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

Dave Evens & Bill Burnett. Dave and Bill are the co-authors and podcasts hosts of Designing Your Life. A lot of their content focuses on applying design thinking to life in the context of fulfilment and self-development. I would love to hear more from them on this topic!

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

Prioritize ruthlessly in a multidimensional manner. Don’t strive for a perfect schedule, strive for a realistic one. Remain fluid and constantly reflect on your goals, priorities and health.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

– Michael Altshuler

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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.