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Balancing the Grind with Naomi Johnston, Founder & Creative Director at NJ Consulting

Naomi Johnston is the founder & creative director at NJ Consulting, a Sydney-based digital marketing consultancy.

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

My career in digital marketing started when I was studying a Bachelor of Business at Macquarie University.

With my strength in analytics and finance, I thought I would end up in management consulting, however, it wasn’t until I saw the massive opportunity for businesses with the new emerging platforms of Instagram and Facebook, that I turned to my creative side.

From a young age, I always had a passion for entrepreneurship and not conforming to the normal 9-5. This started as setting up market stalls and selling products to family and friends as a child, so when an entrepreneurship and new venture management subject popped up at university, I jumped at the opportunity to find out more. 

One of the assignments was to interview an influential entrepreneur about their career path and ambitions. I selected an established figure in the fitness and health industry. The interview quickly turned from me interviewing him, to him interviewing me for a full-time role in the fast-growing online education business.

In 2017, I was studying full-time and working full-time for the education business when I decided there was a void personally and within the market. I wanted to create something of my own, something that could make a difference for small business owners, that’s when I founded NJ Consulting

NJ Consulting is a Digital Marketing Consultancy providing strategy, web and social media marketing services for businesses in the Real Estate, Construction and Financial Services sectors.

The business started, and continues to run, through client referrals and repeat business. Now, in 2022, I have a team of 5, consisting of Developers, Graphic Designers, Administration Support and an Accounts Officer with the goal to double the team over the next 12 months.

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

I have always been an early riser, waking at 4:30am on weekdays. Movement fuels my performance in and out of work, so my day begins with an early morning weights session with my coach at 5:00am, followed by a coastal walk.

I like to time block my day and week, putting everything in my calendar. I like to work on strategy and “deep work” tasks, such as client strategy and meetings in the morning before 1:00 pm. I always get plenty of fresh air and eat during my allocated lunch break.

This is then followed by the more administrative tasks, such as responding to emails in the afternoon. My work day usually ends around 6:00pm.

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

Yes, it does. That’s the beauty of working online, me and my team can work anywhere, anytime without having the 2+ hour commute per day into the office. In saying that, I do value connection so I enjoy being in the office. 

Personally, I enjoy having flexibility in my days so being able to work remotely has been a blessing for my creativity and productivity. 

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

In the beginning I was very tough on myself, I would work 10+ hours per day without leaving my desk. I wasn’t “balancing” work and life, there was a disjoint.I came close to burn-out a few times early in my career, until I realised, after goal setting one year, that balance was and is one of my core values. 

Now, I am very happy with my work-life balance. By time blocking my days and putting everything into my calendar, I make time for everything that makes me happy. I can exercise early, have a big day at work, see friends and family and still have time to relax.

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

There are always lessons to learn in life and business, so I have been loving diversifying my knowledge with podcasts on business, finance and mindset. I only listen to podcasts before 8am and always have them as a background task while I exercise or commute to a meeting.

I have also set myself a goal to read one book every month, only non-fiction books. 

Journaling is another habit I added to my calendar about 12 months ago. I journal at the end of each week, reflecting on the week that was and comparing the week and goals to my monthly and yearly goals.

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

Favourite books:

  • The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone
  • High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
  • The 5am Club by Robin Sharma

Favourite podcasts:

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

Yes, a few things I can’t live without for work:

  1. Google calendar: Absolutely everything in my life goes into my calendar
  2. Asana: The project management tool I use to manage projects with my team
  3. WhatsApp: How I communicate with my team

In my personal life, I couldn’t live without the step tracker on my phone.  I set the goal each day to hit 10,000 steps.

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

I would love to read Canva’s founder, Melanie Perkins’ interview. 

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

You can have it all in life – work, life and some. I recommend stripping it all back and working out what you value – 3 core values – and see if that aligns with the life you have now. If it doesn’t put an action plan in place to change it.

It always helps to be surrounded by people who are doing what you want to do. They will inspire you and help you to grow in life and business.

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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.