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Balancing the Grind with Jeff Jaraved, Co-Founder at CAASie.co

Jeff Jaraved is the co-founder and Director of Engineering at CAASie.co, an online platform that is making billboard advertising affordable for businesses of all sizes.

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

​I’m what I affectionately call a fallen Aerospace Engineer! My career started with me wanting to be a rocket scientist for as long as I can remember.

I either wanted to study space, or build the vehicles that got us there. I studied hard, and geared my entire life to working on aircraft. I even went on to study a Ph.D for a while before dropping out. It turned out, against everything I’d hoped, that working on aircraft wasn’t for me.

​Throughout my uni life, I had a side gig as a graphic designer. So, after dropping out of my PhD, with no or any career prospects left for me, I started my own business in branding. But I’d always been a builder of things – designing logos and making websites wasn’t filling the void in my soul.

​So, one day, when the opportunity arose to build a platform that could change the way we buy billboard ads – I leaped at it. And that’s what I do now. I’m one of the founders and directors at CAASie.co – the online platform that is making billboard advertising affordable for businesses of practically any size.

I run the engineering side of things at CAASie.co – So, for anything technical, I’m the one on call. That means long nights on Slack collaborating with teams in Canada and the US, trying to fix bugs, troubleshooting outages and generally building the next generation of billboard-buying tech.

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

I start my day late, and finish my day late because I thoroughly lack discipline, ha.

My mornings typically start with coffee to get the gears moving, and once I’m ready to take on my work, I firstly look into my day’s schedule of tasks. And these come from various directions.

I have a Google Keep note of my ‘to-do’ list, a list of engineering tasks I track in Trello, and a set of sales tasks assigned to me in Hubspot. On top of that, there is a set of projects I’m in charge of in Asana.

Keeping on top of those tasks generally takes a full day in itself, so I’m generally set for knowing what I’m supposed to be doing.

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

​The short answer is yes, it does. Since our entire team works remotely, we have extremely flexible hours, however this is very much a double-edged sword. Instead of being able to ‘go home’ from work, you’re always at work.

So there’s very little separation from work and life. This leads to its own set of unique challenges – particularly around knowing when to shift your brain and mindset from ‘work mode’ to ‘relax mode’. I personally find that quite challenging because I often enjoy doing some things that the people around me would consider “work”

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

​To me, work-life-balance depends on what I classify as ‘work’ and what I’d classify as ‘life’.

The problem in my case is often what I consider ‘fun’ things (like solving a coding problem), is often something the rest of my family would consider ‘work’. I don’t blame them – any time I spend coding is time I’m spending away from them, which makes them understandably upset.

​For me, there’s a need to intentionally tear myself away from my work so that I can be more present in other aspects of my life. For this, I make sure I keep myself disciplined, even if I do sometimes stray.

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

​I’ve always had trouble being able to commit to things that I’m supposed to be doing, because I often end up in a state of inner conflict about whether the thing I’m doing right now is the most important thing to be doing. This is completely counterintuitive, since it blocks me from being able to complete the task I’m currently on!

​So I’ve made a new habit of creating a new to-do list every day. My previous to-do list seemed to get unboundedly longer, and wasn’t ever giving me enough satisfaction. Now, I purge my to-do list every day regardless of whether or not there are things pending to do.

I will then re-write the things. My theory is, if I forget to put something up there when I’m redoing it, then it wasn’t important enough to be done today. This has helped me stay much more focused on what I should be doing, and not distracted by things I could be doing later (or not at all).

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

​Rather annoyingly, I’m not much of a reader as I used to be in the past, so I haven’t read many books since I was about 12.

That said, the most recent book I read through was Brand Sense by Martin Lindstrom. It was a fantastic look into branding across the five senses and how it has been used by companies like Coca-Cola, Disney, Singapore Airlines, and so forth. I’d definitely recommend it to any business looking to grow, since branding is such an important piece of that journey.

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

​Yes! I do love my phone and laptop. It’s my gateway to both work and leisure. I spend most of my free time surfing Imgur for memes, so I have to say that these two gadgets form the backbone of my relaxation strategy (beyond their regular uses for work).

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

​Probably my friend and mentor Vu Tran; one of the co-founders of Go1 based in Logan, QLD. I’ve seen how he’s run Go1, is a practicing GP, has a passion for sport, and generally seems to carry an energetic vibe that I’m truly in awe of.

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

​I’m a huge fan writing things down (either using software or just on paper). In my view, if you feel like your mind is clouded and overwhelmed – then it helps to create a list of everything that’s on there.

​I have found that, more often than not, the list is shorter than I expect it to be. And having it written down means you can free your mind to not be occupied with these thoughts. Both in a personal and work context, I find that this helps me solve issues and feel more relaxed than I would have otherwise.

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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.