Polly Snell is a PR Senior Account Manager at PEPR Agency, and the founder and editor at Massive Orange Book, a digital publication for creative entrepreneurs.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m originally from the UK and studied Journalism and PR at university in Bristol, my home city. I worked part-time in PR throughout my degree, and got my first full-time role in beauty and interiors PR when I graduated.
I absolutely fell in love with this job from day one. I received more free skincare products than any 21 year old could ever need, and my friends were overjoyed when their birthdays came around and I came round with armfuls of hyaluronic acid and lipsticks.
I moved to Australia three years ago, and have worked in PR most of the time since being here, in Melbourne and in Sydney where I currently live. (I did also take a break to complete my farm work in order to extend my Working Holiday Visa, so I had a couple of stints working on an avocado farm, to broaden the skills on my CV, to say the least!)
My current role is as PR Senior Account Manager at PEPR Agency, a wonderful agency that specialises in travel, tourism and property. It’s an interesting time to be in travel PR, with everything going on in the world at the moment, but I’m working with an incredible team who have taught me so much about the industry. I feel very lucky to have a proper work family, when I’m living this far away from home!
I have also just set up a digital publication for creative entrepreneurs, called Massive Orange Book, which I am the editor of.
We cover creative careers, side hustles, PR, interiors, self-care and sustainability. Having this project has really benefited me throughout lockdown, as it’s given me something to work towards and focus on.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My alarm goes off at 6am, and I usually try to crawl out of bed by 6:30am. At the moment we’re living right by Bondi Beach, so I start my day off with a walk and a podcast or audiobook on Audible, which I couldn’t live without.
This time for myself first thing in the morning really sets me up for the day, and helps me feel calmer. I then come home and on an ideal day I squeeze in an online workout before work. I always feel so much better when I do this, but some days it’s harder than others!
I then work from 8:30-5:30 in my PR manager role, currently from home instead of the office as we’re in lockdown here in Sydney. This involves pitching to press, writing media releases for our clients, engaging with influencers and content creators to collaborate on campaigns together.
I try to go on a lunchtime walk every day, because I feel that the break away from my desk and the fresh air helps my focus so much in the afternoons.
My boyfriend Jack and I usually go for another walk after work, to watch the sunset over Bondi Beach. I then come home and spend at least an hour on Massive Orange Book, whether that’s creating Instagram posts for the month, writing content for the website, or drafting our weekly newsletter.
It sounds like a lot, but when it gets to about 7pm – that is when I switch off and do some serious chilling. Reading, binging Netflix or sometimes even playing Sims 4. I need that balance or my brain would probably fall out. I also love to paint, so on the weekends I just turn my music on and have a few hours of painting to relax and unwind.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, my current role is very flexible! It’s a small team of us, so everyone is hugely understanding of everyone’s personal lives and when we need to take days off for various reasons.
We are also all working remotely at the moment due to the lockdown in Sydney. We speak every morning on Zoom at 9am, and throughout the day we have various client meetings and calls, so we never really feel secluded.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me, it means remembering to prioritise my health and mind over everything else.
I used to be really bad at this, and get really stressed when I didn’t really need to be. I think our generation has very much been brought up around this always-on culture, with our iPhones never far away, but I think it’s really healthy to be able to say, “actually hang on a minute, my heart is beating too fast – I’m going for a walk.”
Nobody does their best work when they’re stressed, and also you don’t always have to have a specific reason for feeling anxious, sometimes it just happens.
Once I realised it was okay to talk about not feeling 100% all the time, it made me feel a lot more secure in myself, and able to seek more balance in my daily life.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
This is probably hugely to do with being in lockdown, but I’ve started walking a lot more. I aim for 12k steps per day, and this honestly makes me feel so much more peaceful in general.
I often listen to podcasts or audiobooks when I walk, and for someone like me who is practically addicted to feeling productive, I love it because it’s healthy and relaxing but I’m still getting through that book I’ve been meaning to read for five years!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
My favourite newsletter is by Australian comedian Froomes. She is just hilarious and her Instagram stories also have me in tears.
My favourite podcast is Creative Lives, which is a series of interviews with creatives about how they landed their dream jobs. It’s really inspiring.
One amazing book I read recently was called How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? by Pandora Sykes. It’s all about millennial women and how we’re expected to be perfect and how mind numbingly ridiculous that is.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
This is a bit sad, but I don’t think I could live without my Fitbit. It really helps keep me accountable, so I know if I’ve been out and had enough fresh air that day based on my step count. It sounds silly, but I’m someone who’s very often glued to her laptop, so I do need those hourly buzzes to remind me to stand up and move my bum.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
This is a tough one. I think I’d probably choose Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva. She’s one of the youngest female CEOs of a tech start-up valued over $1 billion. I wouldn’t mind picking her brains, that’s for sure!!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
One last thing that’s really helped me in the last couple of years is being really strict about who I follow on social media. We inevitably spend more time on social media than is ideal, so I make a point of unfollowing any accounts that negatively impact me in any way.
I also make a point of following writers’ newsletters who I respect and want to read, so I invite more positive stuff into my sphere. I try to go through each month and have a digital clear out.
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.