Balancing the Grind with Katie Sherlock, Head Of Brand at Blueheart

Katie Sherlock is the Head Of Brand at Blueheart, the leading relationship and sex therapy app, backed by science and led by expert therapists.

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

I’ve had what feels like a million jobs since I was a kid. Waitressing, call centres, warehouse working, and promoting. I tried investment banking, computer sciences, acting, and nannying abroad. I even got my dream work experience at 14 with a vet. That one didn’t work out because I started sobbing in the operating theatre when a dog was put to sleep. 

I graduated with an International Management degree from Manchester University after some volunteering in Honduras and internships in China. Then I started out in the food industry, working in commercial roles.

In 2020, when the Brexit deadline was looming, I decided to move to Barcelona during the pandemic, as you do. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do career-wise, but I went with my gut and landed a job at a marketing agency.

I was always a little confused about my passion and what truly inspired me until my new flatmate and now best friend moved in. She worked in sex tech, and we’d spend hours discussing female rights, sexual education, mental health, and sex itself. That’s exactly when I realised I needed to start working on something I really care about.

After loads of digging, I found Blueheart, a relationship and sex therapy app helping couples with digital health. I desperately wanted to be part of a team trying to make change rather than just revenue. And that they did. It’s all about breaking taboos and making sure anyone can access the help they need with affordable and convenient solutions for intimacy and relationship problems. 

As Head of Brand, I created the brand strategy and brand book and continue to drive awareness through partnerships, PR, social media, CRM, product marketing, and more. It’s my dream role. I can be creative, methodical, strategic, and sociable, all whilst learning about therapy and relationships from amazing experts.

I’ve had the opportunity to present our product to the NHS and launch partnerships with the likes of Boots, and it’s even inspired me to start a therapy diploma myself. 

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

On a good day, I’ll either run, do yoga, or have a quick swim and grab a coffee, then I’m ready to get going.

If you asked my colleagues, they’d say my Google calendar is hideous, but I think it’s beautiful. It’s like a rainbow obsessed with organisation. It’s so detailed, but it helps me visualise and plan better. I really hate to-do lists with a passion. So, I start my workday by mapping out my colour-coded priorities and plans before starting my first meeting at 10.

A typical day will involve reviewing performance and then speaking with our partners to plan marketing activities. These calls could be with somebody in mental health, a wellness app, a sex toy brand, ethical period products, and so on.

Early in the afternoon, I’ll work on CRM as this involves product logic, leaving the more creative tasks like copywriting and designing visuals for later in the day. I get journalists’ requests and questions from customers throughout the day, so I deal with these as they come.

Then I’ll do social content and speak to US partners. We have everything reviewed by our therapists, so I’ll meet with them to work on SEO articles and get therapeutic advice for our audience. 

After work, I love eating out and exploring the city. If I’m feeling energetic or a bit frazzled, I’ll do some exercise, paint, cook, or just chill out. Then I drift off to a podcast. This is so habitual. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed in silence.

Disclaimer, not everyday is like this. Some days, especially if it’s cold and dark, I wake up later, skip exercise, and won’t check off all of my colour-coded priorities then I’ll probably order takeaway for dinner. But that’s fine, I’ve learnt to give myself a break more and appreciate my slower days.

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

Yes, it’s flexible and remote, which I’m grateful for. But I have to admit, I’ve still not fully shaken off my anxious overachiever traits, so I’ll work quite late sometimes. Remote working is bittersweet; you get more done, but you don’t have a colleague next to you telling you to go home!

But it allows me to fit in a nice little morning routine, which I really value, especially in the summer months. Nothing beats going for a swim and reading on the beach before you start your workday. 

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

A year ago, I’d have probably said achieving as much as I can and then doing something I enjoy when I deserve it. But that’s changed. 

I recently got diagnosed with ADHD, so now I’m trying to put myself first after years of neglecting my well-being. People with neurodivergent brains have a tendency to struggle with time blindness and hyperfocus.

For me, that means I can get absorbed in plans and details, underestimating how much time and effort a task will take and then overworking myself to complete it that day. When in reality, it wasn’t necessary.

I’m creating new strategies to balance my work and life. I’ve started to look at things that drain me and things that fill me with joy and take note of them in my journal. If I notice I’m doing too many drainers in one day, like my taxes, too many numbers, or struggling with work when I’m blocked, I’ll take a break and do something that gives me some joy or energy. It could be a walk, a quick bike ride, or something tiny like watering my plants and a quick stretch on the floor.

This takes conscious effort when you’ve spent years telling yourself that your success or output reflects who you are as a person. So I’ve been doing a lot of work to quiet that inner critic and be kinder to myself, and it’s actually made me more productive too.

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

I’ve changed a lot. I’m more present and going with the flow more as I’ve realised plans can change for the better. After years of putting it off, I’ve started seeing an EMDR therapist, which has helped me uncover so much and build healthier daily habits. I’m journaling, practising gratitude, and using breathing techniques if I’m ever overwhelmed or anxious.

I’ve tried lots of new things, like windsurfing, clay work, painting, and surfing. I’m also constantly learning about therapy and neuroscience and practising my Spanish when I can. If I’m not learning, I can get bored and feel quite stuck, so it’s important for me to keep stimulated, and it gets me out of my head.

I’m better at creating realistic plans for my work week without being hard on myself when I don’t complete everything, and I’m better at shutting off properly after work by going for a long run or doing anything that brings me back down to earth and away from a screen. I’m more health-focused too.

I’ve stopped drinking alcohol, partly due to my ADHD medication but also because it just makes me feel great, and I’m not drinking caffeine after lunch. I’ve also stopped saying yes to everything, which is a big one for me. 

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

One of my favourite books is Women Who Run With the Wolves. I wish I’d read this when I was 11 instead of Hollywood Wives by Jacky Collins. It’s quite poetic with folklore, so you have to be in the mood, but it says that being fierce is good and that we should reclaim our wild selves by creating whatever it is that we love and walking away from the stuff we know is holding us back. That could be a job, a relationship, a predetermined role, or even an identity created by ourselves.

I’m always listening to podcasts. I love Ologies because it’s all about experts and the obsessions they have with their subjects from sexology to melittology (bees). I’ll also listen to true crime and investigative journalism like Serial and S-Town but if I need to sleep I’ll go with The New Yorker Fiction.

I’ve started reading ADDitude’s newsletters as it’s got tons of tips for neurodivergent life on organisation, emotions, food and nutrition, alternative treatments, and whatnot. 

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

I’m not big on gadgets but I use apps like Sleep Cycle and some for music and meditation. I use Strava to motivate me to run but realised recently that I actually run better without it. And I have a newfound love for Reddit to help with my work, all of my random life questions, or finding niche information.

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

Oliver Sacks. I’m obsessed with neuroscience and love his books. He was a maverick who helped his patient’s struggles by understanding their story and recognising their incredible gifts too.

His work completely changed medicine and how we perceive neurological disorders but he also had so much fun whilst doing so. I think his passions as a doctor, a writer, a philosopher, a motorcyclist, and a musician all made him the best explorer of the human brain. It’d be good to know how he managed all of that too.

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

I once learnt a question that really stopped me in my tracks and it goes: “What am I pretending to not know?”.

It’s a powerful question to ask yourself when feeling overwhelmed, stuck, or even a bit confused. It’s helpful for work-life balance because it makes you look at the stuff you’re ignoring. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve skipped meals, worked into the early hours, nibbled at my nails all day, and even ignored calls from my nearest and dearest by pretending to be working because I was so exhausted from working. 

I was pretending to not know I was hungry, tired, nervous, and anti-social because I was overworking. And when I dug a bit deeper, I realised I was also pretending to not know that I was a sporadic perfectionist that often doubted myself and I had an old friend that would pop up far too often: the fear of failure.

The fear of failing can be motivating (at times), but it’s not sustainable in the long run, so we need to give ourselves a break to recover. I’m not a fan of doing nothing, but I’ve realised you don’t have to be still to be rested.

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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.