Sam McFarlane is the Founder and Social Media Manager at Sam Says, which provides social media and content management services for SMEs.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
My career journey started before social media, after studying Commerce at university, my first role was in Marketing for a large hotel chain. I then spent a couple of years in the UK like most Australians before returning back to Australia and continuing to work in marketing roles. In 2012 I needed more flexibility with work and decided to start my own business as a social media manager. I’ve been doing that ever since and love the flexibility of working for myself.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
My days are quite varied but usually involve me creating content for my clients social media, meeting with clients either virtually or in person, attending networking and professional development events, sometimes mixed in with a quick walk with my dog to get rid of some of his energy!
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
I find that work life balance is such an enigma. Just when you think you have it all worked out, you get thrown a curveball! What I’ve come to learn over the years of working for myself is that you literally have to block out the time in your calendar or else someone else will take up that time. I usually try and keep Friday’s blocked out so I can have a more relaxed day and if I need to do client work I can, otherwise I might book in to catch up with a friend or have a beauty treatment.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
When I started my business I would work all hours to make sure I got everything done. This would include late nights and weekends – I had zero work life balance. But over time, I have adopted different practices to help improve work-life balance. I’m much more conscious of switching off in the afternoon and not working at night or on weekends.
I’ve also started playing tennis once a week with some friends as I am a big believer that living a healthy lifestyle improves energy levels. When I know I have a busy week coming up, I might do an online shop to make sure I have healthy food in the house if I can’t get to the supermarket.
That might even include having some healthy pre-prepared dinners so I’m not ordering something on UberEats and then regretting it after. I also sit down at the start of the week and plan out my week to make sure I factor in extra down time if I have a busy week coming up. I like to know what’s coming up so I can be prepared. So planning is a big part of this for me.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?
Apart from this podcast? I recently read Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles. It was a book I was wanting to read for a while and after spending a few weeks in Japan at the start of the year, I started reading it and really enjoyed it.
One of my favourite quotes from the book is: “Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.”
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I love Paulo Coelho’s quote: “When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” As someone with people pleasing tendencies I have had to learn that no is a complete sentence.