Matilda Rudd is the Senior Femail Reporter at Daily Mail Australia, working across the news, showbiz and lifestyle sectors.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) from the University of Technology, Sydney, in 2016 but managed to secure a number of media positions while I was studying. The course itself only had nine face-to-face hours a week, so there was a lot of encouragement to pick up internships along the way.
Needless to say I threw myself at free work like I was being paid top dollar. I walked through the doors of Mamamia, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Universal Magazines and did some social media work for a flat sharing company.
I dabbled in public relations at MaxMediaLab’s Max Connectors office – which was really interesting – and ended up getting a paid position with Mamamia.
No job was too small and I saw every day at someone’s office as an opportunity to gain skills and progress in the media industry. Before I graduated university the Daily Mail Australia had started its trainee scheme, which saw participants spend time overseas honing their craft before settling in the Sydney HQ.
I was picked alongside six others and we flew to Glasgow, Scotland, to work in the Daily Mail newspaper office for two months. This was the middle of 2017. During that time I interviewed a Dame, tried to solve a murder case by speaking to French police (I don’t speak French) and came within a hair’s breadth of the Queen of England.
When our group returned we spent time working across the news, showbiz and lifestyle – known as ‘femail’ – factions of the website. It wasn’t long before I took a real shining to the lifestyle sector and how the ladies working there had the freedom to interview real people, every day, about stories that may not always make the front page.
You have to really search to find them in far-off places of social media, but they are so worth telling. Cancer survival stories, family heartbreak, parenting woes, medical miracles. And that’s what I do today as a senior reporter.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m still working from home and have been since COVID-19 regulations were introduced in March. It’s certainly different writing from my dining room table in a one-bedroom flat, but I enjoy it.
A typical day for me depends on how much sleep I had the night before: If it was at least seven hours, I might get up to do a Pilates class on Bondi Beach before work starts at 8. I’m a member of the Perth-based studio MVMT Society and they share videos you can watch online and follow along. They were the perfect remedy during lockdown. If not, I’ll stay in bed for as long as possible.
I’ve usually found a couple of story ideas or leads the night before (just from scouring social media – my accounts are almost entirely programmed to help with my work) so I’ll pitch them to my editor in the morning, or chase anything urgent.
Then it’s a combination of writing, sourcing photos, speaking to experts or talent until almost 2pm, when I break for lunch, before diving back into the mix until just past 5pm. There isn’t a mentality that working late will earn you any ‘points’ in my team, so long as you get everything you needed to get done, everyone’s happy – including me!
After 5pm I’ll try and exercise in some way – especially if I didn’t go in the morning – because oftentimes working from home means you’re not moving around as much.
I’ll enjoy a coastal walk, Pilates or catch up with a friend so it feels like I haven’t just worked and slept each day. During the week I make dinner at home with my partner, before relaxing with a TV show on in the background. At the moment it’s Money Heist. I’ll try to get to bed before 10.30pm.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
It does now, more than ever. I think that has been one of the most positive things to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic (and we do have to look for the positives). I was given a laptop to work off from home and have had no connection issues since March.
There is the option to return if we want to now but I’m really enjoying the extra time I have in the mornings and evenings to exercise and be immersed in nature. And the product output is the same.
Being outside or going on long walks is normally something I reserve for the weekend so it has been a welcome ‘pause’ on the busy commute from Bondi Beach into the Sydney CBD.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
It’s really important to me, especially early in my career, to work out how I’m comfortable working and under what parameters. Before COVID-19 I tended to eat at my desk a lot (through no fault of my boss – I chose to!) and would spend the commute to and from work looking for stories.
As I said, my social media, particularly Facebook, is so programmed to ‘lifestyle’-related paraphernalia that I rarely see a status update – it’s more just groups where people are sharing their stories.
After I started working from home I realised I can still do an excellent job in my role without living and breathing other people’s lives – sometimes you need to remember your own as a journalist. I actually decided to pursue a dream of mine and become a Pilates instructor a few months ago.
I’m training on the weekends I don’t work, so everything is balancing out well. I can’t wait to have a ‘hobby’ on the side that I can also get fulfillment from. I’m sharing my experiences over at @apilatesgirl on Instagram.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve actually not been on Twitter in 12 months, as hard as that is to believe for a journalist. While it can be an excellent source of news, it’s not actually where people I tend to write about are congregating, so I’ve found I can switch off from it.
It’s also the most vicious social media profile for journalists: If someone wants to send you a nasty message or ‘troll’ you, it will be on Twitter, I’ve found.
Aside from that my Pilates training has been the biggest change in my life. What started as something I did to keep fit has now become a passion project. I’d love to start an app one day that affords Pilates enthusiasts the opportunity to watch real-time videos, so they can train anywhere, anytime. But I need to become certified first.
Overall, I think finding something outside of your regular job to focus on as well is healthy, particularly during a global pandemic. When days are starting to roll together you need something to look forward to that isn’t necessarily an overseas getaway.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I actually interned at Mamamia with the fabulous ladies who run the Shameless podcast. They’re doing some really important work interviewing influential people and at the same time providing a welcome distraction from the daily grind.
If you haven’t read Joseph Pilates’ books Contrology and Your Health, I can’t recommend them enough. Whether you practice or not his words about how we need to live a balanced lifestyle were well ahead of his time.
He even created specific types of chairs and beds that tilt back, because he believes the straight back chairs we sit on today aren’t built for our personal comfort – they’re built to look good.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my Kindle for reading on the beach (I was a physical book person for a LONG time before my partner bought me one for Christmas) and my Apple Airpods. They’re perfect for interviewing and typing at the same time, without an annoying cord in the way.
I’m a big fan of the Classpass app for trialling fitness classes at various studios. It’s inexpensive in comparison to signing up to an individual studio or gym and for those that get tired of routine, it keeps you on your toes. There are plenty of styles of fitness to choose from, so it’s for everyone.
Voice memos on my iPhone is key for recording interviews and Instagram is my favourite social media app. I follow so many people I’ve written stories about so it’s a good way to keep up with everyone – both work and personal.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d be really interested to hear how SWEAT co-founder Kayla Itsines juggles her workouts with being a mother and owning a multimillion-dollar business! We’ve written countless stories on her over the years so it would be an eye-opener for me.
Ladies (and men for that matter!) who own their own businesses inspire me to follow my own dreams.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Some people live to work and others work to live: Find out which category you WANT to be a part of and ensure everything that you do marries up with that original ethos. Stay true to how you want to live your life.
Before you go…
If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here.
Join our community and never miss a conversation about work, life & balance – subscribe to our newsletter.