Balancing the Grind with Nick Doring, Senior Creative at Wunderman Thompson

Nick Doring is an art-based creative who is currently working as a Senior Creative at agency Wunderman Thompson.

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

I’m an art-based creative with about 17 years experience in Australia and Europe. 

I love creative problem solving and have done it in various styles. I started out as a freelance illustrator, textile designer before moving into ad land. I’ve owned my own branding agency, built studios for other people, and am currently a creative at Wunderman Thompson. 

I enjoy advertising because the end product is only limited by the ideas you could come up with (and sell into the client). One week you could be making a game or app, the next a TVC, and the weekend after an experiential event.

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

I get up around 6am and jump on some calls and get an idea of any developments within Australia. I then work through to around noon and then go for some laps at the pool (lockdowns permitting).

We live on a farm, so once I get home, I light the fires and do a few chores before picking the kids up from school. The kids and I play outside until it gets cold. Most nights I cook dinner and then I try to finish my day around 9ish. 

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

It has. Like a lot of people, my family and I started to reevaluate what was important during the pandemic. In the same way, I think a lot of agencies have been reevaluating how they engage with staff.

I have a couple of kids and my partner has elderly parents in Ireland. So my family and I decided to up sticks and relocate to Ireland about 5 months ago. My agency was really supportive, and I’ve continued to work with them. I’ll look at winding up my role shortly as I open up the next chapter here.

In a lot of ways it’s been really positive, as it’s meant I can define my hours a touch more, and in turn, play more of an active role in my kids’ life. The early morning conference calls have been an adjustment though. 

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

Like a lot of people who are passionate about what they do, I find it hard to not be absorbed in what I’m doing. So work-life balance is something I’m always conscious of and working on getting better at. I’m always conscious that no matter how passionate I am about making things, ads won’t hug me after a bad day.  

Between a young family and a demanding industry constantly throwing curve balls, work-life balance is tricky. It’s something I’m always conscious of and working on getting better at. I just try to focus on give and take.

After particularly demanding periods, I push to ensure my family can take the spotlight. Usually, if I’m getting the ebbs and flows right, the work is better for it. 

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

Daily exercise combined with device free time has been a game changer. Introducing both has resulted in me having more objectivity around stress. I can really see the difference if both aren’t there. Living in the country and avoiding the commute has been amazing as well. 

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

Books: Some old industry faithfuls are Ogilvy on Advertising, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, Whatever You Think Think the Opposite by Paul Arden and Damn Good Advice by George Lois. But I’ve finally started getting on my must-read lists and I’m reading Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut.

Podcasts: Australian Design Radio is great with some great guests. The Creative Relay has a really interesting format with each interviewee interviewing the next guest of their choosing. Then some other personal favourites are Freakonomics, Wizard and the Bruiser, Joe Rogan and Last Podcast on the Left.

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

I use meditation apps like Calm when getting to sleep. It’s a great help when I need to unwind with my current irregular patterns of working/life-ing. So I need something that can unwind me quickly to ensure I get enough sleep.

I also use Google Tasks for keeping track of my endless list of jobs. Plus, I’m a sucker for following illustrators and creators on Instagram.

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

Stephen King. He’s had one of the most prolific creative careers and has a relatively regimented approach and writes 10 pages a day. It would be interesting to hear how this approach has produced some iconic stories and such a sustained career.

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

Work-life balance is a work-in-progress for everyone. So as much as some of the best ideas can come at 3am, if you don’t exercise restraint the work and your mental health will suffer. So make sure you set boundaries for yourself and your personal time.

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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.