Balancing the Grind with Naushin Rahman, Interior Designer at naushin designs

Naushin Rahman is an interior designer, and the founder of naushin designs, her own interior design practice where she works on homes for New Yorkers and Brisbanites.

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

I am an interior designer, but I actually studied Architecture at QUT. So I started my career working in Residential Architecture – designing bespoke traditional post-war homes in Queensland.

I then moved to New York City where I actually discovered my purpose, I was on a one-woman design team designing and opening over 25 stores for Bluestone Lane.

This was an insane journey as I also had to build the entire Design process and standard from scratch, but it set me up for my next role at Common Living (a co-living real estate operator).

At Common, I designed 11 co-living homes, including beautiful Common Monroe which was a church renovation project featured in Domino Magazine- this was certainly a career highlight.

I recently launched my own Interior Design practice, designing beautiful and restful homes for New Yorkers and Brisbanites.

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

I wake up early and have a daily meditation practice. I am also a certified yoga teacher so this is something that is super important for me. Then I go for a walk and get a coffee, I have to chat with my Barista, and make that human connection.

Then I will eat a healthy breakfast and take the time to read the news, or just chill out. I am usually starting work at 8:30am. I spend the first hour of the day going through emails, and reading any design articles for inspiration before getting into the thick of things.

I really do try to take a lunch break, sometimes the days are too busy though, but I put in the effort! I finish work around 6pm. I will usually practice yoga for about an hour, and have something really light for dinner. I am in bed by 10:30.

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

Yes! It is definitely hard to be a designer and not be able to visit client’s homes, showrooms and see samples in the flesh, but I think as an industry we are making it work!

Suppliers are shipping samples, and are being more clear about their product specs online, every one is adapting. I am lucky enough to be able to have a separate space as an “office” in my home, so it is a clear delineation of work and home.

I think this is super important when working from home! I hear people saying they end up working 16 hours a day because their desk is also their dinner table, I just don’t think that type of energy is ever going to last. We need the time to wind down and the discipline to separate the two.

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

Well it is my personal ethos and really is the motivation behind my work. The main reason why I chose interior design was because I felt my purpose was to help people curate a restful life.

I am extremely passionate about the way a person finds moments of pause in their homes amidst the hustle. New Yorkers and other big city folk are so focused on their work that they often find themselves grinding to the bone until they literally cannot anymore.

It is a real misuse of energy and can be quite tragic to witness! I know that when I don’t take the time for myself, the quality of my work suffers, and ultimately that negatively impacts me.

Work-life balance to me, means that when you love your work, you use your down time to recharge, so that you are able to give authentically, whether it be professionally or in your relationships. You can never give what you don’t have.

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

Yes! Many! But two that come to mind is:

1) Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday.

Getting enough sleep is so integral to our health and also our brain power. Brain fog is extremely frustrating. I really dislike not being able to function at my best (for at least most of the day). To combat this I need enough sleep. It is a huge challenge!

As a creative, I never give up sleep to get more design done – it just doesn’t work for me. The quality is never very good, and I end up redoing it all in the morning anyway. Working smarter, not harder (or longer)!

2) Eating breakfast.

Eating breakfast has been a really good way to give myself the time to chill out before getting to work first thing in the morning. I like to enjoy my food, and just take it easy.

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

I’ve been reading Relationships that Work by David Wolfe recently. It’s a book about how to be an empathic listener, not only to others but also to yourself. It has been really transformative in my career in giving me the skills to really understand my colleagues and clients in order to serve them at my highest potential.

Aside from binge listening to every How I Built This episode, I have also been listening to Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast. Lots of really great lessons on how to be a better person – and I think everyone could use a bit of that!

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

Google Calendar. I use it for absolutely everything. My calendar has all of my events as well as tasks and reminders. I do get distracted, so I track my days in 1 hour increments and am extremely honest with myself about how I have spent my time.

It’s awesome to be able to see a visual representation of how I have spent my day, whether it was productive or not! I can also be pretty forgetful sometimes, so I really need it to keep me on top of my commitments. It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be where I am without it.

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

Boz Saint John. She is so badass, a huge source of inspiration for me and so many other young entrepreneurs and professionals.

She has overcome a lot in her life, and is so successful – I would love to hear how she does it, how she balances it all and manages to be so lively, strong and sure of herself.

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

I think it is really important to be clear on what it is that we are ‘working’ for. For me, I want to be the fullest version of myself, and that doesn’t only mean professionally. I spend a lot of time reflecting and becoming more self aware, and recognizing roadblocks of my own.

Becoming self aware takes time, patience and peaceful reflection, it never occurs in the realm of the hustle. When I get too caught up in the day to day tasks, I lose sight of the bigger picture and actually end up pigeon-holding myself and limiting my potential.

The balance allows us the time and space to get in touch with ourselves, and ultimately live a more fulfilled life with focus and a greater purpose.

Photo credit: Aimee Catt Photography.

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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.