Editors / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Lauren Sams, Fashion Editor at The Australian Financial Review

Lauren Sams is the Fashion Editor at The Australian Financial Review, where she covers fashion, lifestyle, the arts and other areas for the publication.

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

I’m the fashion editor at The Australian Financial Review. I cover fashion, lifestyle, the arts and other areas for the paper, in a daily capacity and also for our weekly lifestyle supplement, Life & Leisure, and our monthly magazine, The Australian Financial Review Magazine.

I have worked in magazines my whole career, after short attempts at the law and academia. I love writing and storytelling, and I love print media.

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

Most days are a mix of meetings, interviews and writing. And like most people, hundreds of emails. After two years mainly working from home, it’s exciting and refreshing to be in the office again, around my colleagues and in the bustle of a newsroom.

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

Absolutely. Our editors treat us like the adults we are and allow us to work remotely and flexibly when necessary. But we are expected to put in face time at the office, and it’s a good thing – we need to be present to get things done sometimes. That said, when I am writing a long feature or getting my head around tricky data, I prefer to be at home in silence.

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

I start every week thinking, “this week will be different! I’ll be so organised!” Generally I am pretty organised and efficient, but invariably my week will be derailed at some point by a late-dropping news story or a child being sick or some such event. I like to be as organised as I can be because I know things like that will always happen – it’s kind of like having savings set aside for a rainy day I guess.

Work-life balance is a constantly evolving thing, but it helps to have: a) a husband with whom I truly share the load and b) a boss who understands that I have a personal life. I am extremely lucky to be supported by those two men.

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

I have started lifting weights – and it’s incredible! I feel stronger, of course, and I have found the exercise routine I will do, rain hail or shine. It’s helped enormously with stress. I also stopped drinking – a game-changer for me.

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

So many! I am (like the rest of the world) a big fan of Atomic Habits and Gretchen Rubin’s books on habits (I am a creature of routine). I listen to Maintenance Phase, a podcast that debunks health myths, religiously, as well as The Squiz, Business of Fashion, In Vogue, Decoder Ring and How I Made It, an AFR podcast about members of the Rich List. I also love Awards Chatter, The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast. It’s a masterclass in interviewing, a skill I am forever trying to improve.

I am a huge fan of newsletters. The AFR has a heap of them and I highly recommend subscribing – Need to Know is our daily news update, and our Work and Careers newsletter is always fascinating. I love Open Thread, from Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times, Zara Wong’s Screenshot This, Jill Dupleix Eats, The Guardian’s Saved For Later, I could go on!

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

My phone, sadly. I rely heavily on my freezer and microwave, and after lockdown, my air fryer. Not very glam but the proof is in the roast potatoes.

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

Anna Wintour. Though I suspect she does not have a great deal of balance.

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

Do your best, forget the rest. Some weeks are hard. Others are easier. Do the best you can. Not the most groundbreaking advice, I know, but sometimes we all need a reminder that we are not superhuman.

And ask for help, or pay for it. Outsource what you can. My husband and I are big believers in time as currency – we don’t iron or clean (much), and we have banned weekend sports. Our time is precious! Outsource as much as you can. Get a Dinner Ladies order and fill the freezer. Pay for a cleaner if you can. And so on and so on. Protect your time and use it wisely.

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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.