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Balancing the Grind with Marissa Sandler, CEO & Co-Founder of Careseekers

Marissa Sandler is the CEO & Co-Founder of Careseekers, a platform connecting people needing in-home carers and people needing care work.

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

I spent 15 years working as a human rights lawyer during which time I focused on women’s rights and disability rights. About seven years ago my sister and I came up with the idea for Careseekers.

Like many businesses, ours began on my kitchen table. We started off doing absolutely everything from customer support, to invoicing and payments. Today we employ over 20 people and I am the CEO of the business.

There are over 8,000 workers on our platform and we provide thousands of hours of aged care and disability support each week, Australia wide.

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

Recently we have been in COVID lockdown. As this ends tomorrow, I thought I would describe a pre-COVID day in my life – I wake up, exercise, drop my children at school and head into the office.

I have usually planned my work day the night before and so I start working through my list. I try to keep all internal meetings on Wednesdays, however there are usually a few meetings each day. I have to be flexible and accept that most days things come up unexpectedly, so I rarely make it through my list before I have to leave by 5pm.

Each afternoon looks a bit different depending on where my children need to be (I have two girls aged 8 and 11).

Regardless, I spend until about 8.30pm with them and then sit down to work some more. I love the quiet of the night for working, and often work until 11.30pm. I am trying to stop working by 10.30pm as otherwise I find I don’t sleep well.

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

Yes absolutely! Due to a COVID lockdown I have been working from home for over four months. Like everyone, I’ve adapted to a world where all meetings can be done via zoom and the nature of my work means I can easily do it from anywhere – that has internet access!

Given that I divide my workday into two blocks (9.30am-5pm and then 8.30pm-11.30pm) I always make sure I answer anything time critical during the day and often leave the work that needs flow and thinking time for the evening.

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

At this stage of my life work-balance to me is achieved by making sure that everyday, apart from working, I exercise, spend time with my daughters and husband and connect with at least one friend or family member (usually a chat in the car while driving somewhere).

I also always have a good book or two on the go. While there are so many other things I would love to be doing in my life e.g. going to the theatre and movies, I really believe that you can’t have everything at once and at this stage of my life my work-life balance goals are around the things that are the top priorities for me. I hope in the future there will be lots of time for other things.

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

We’ve spent a third of the last 12 months in COVID lockdown so many of my habits and routines have forcibly stopped. I think the most life changing habit that this period has brought to an end is my continual over-scheduling.

On some days I would schedule something in at 10am and another thing at 10.30am in two different locations and somehow get to both (with my nerves shattered!). COVID has largely broken that habit and I am going to be much stricter going forward about how I schedule my days.

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

Over the last year I’ve been really focused on improving my leadership and have loved the following two podcasts ‘The look and sound of leadership’ and ‘Coaching for leaders with Dave Stachowiak’.

I love Tara Brach’s podcast for mindfulness, meditations and the most incredible insights into our own behaviour. I enjoy ‘How I work’ as I love hearing how other people organise their working days.

The best work related books that I have recently read are Radical Candour by Kim Scott, Factfulness by Hans Rosling and Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski.

I inhale anything written and said by Brene Brown. I read a lot of industry related newsletters. I have found over the years the quality of industry related newsletters has increased so much.

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

I absolutely love Trello – if you love making lists it is heaven!

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

I love hearing about how people achieve work-life balance and so often seek out these articles and podcasts.

No one specific comes to mind, but I find it particularly interesting to hear from people who never seem to have an ‘off’ switch on what their work-life balance looks like. Given my life (balancing running a business and raising children) I really love hearing about how other women balance these two things.

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

My biggest learning while running Careseekers and trying to have a work life balance has been that you can’t have it all at once – as cliche as it sounds, when I really engaged with this concept I was able to work out what was essential for me to have in my life right now, and what could wait for a later point in my life.

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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.