Sarah Davidson is a corporate lawyer who stopped practicing law and is now the podcast host of Seize the Yay. She is also the co-owner of Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a corporate lawyer turned funtrepreneur who hung up the suits and heels when my now-husband and I stumbled up on a gap in the market for matcha green tea powder and founded Matcha Maiden as a side hustle.
We also co-own plant-based eatery, Matcha Mylkbar, and I have my own podcast Seize the Yay that looks at the many different pathways to a life that makes you yay (and the book is on its way soon too!)
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
One of the things I love the most about running a business (especially having a few different ones) is that my working day looks so different from day to day so you could never get bored!
I do try to have a bit of structure though to make sure I’m pacing myself energy wise and not burning out (which I’ve done many times before!) I start every morning with a meditation, which I’ve been doing for years now and it’s a game changer for anxiety and stress management.
Then I always have a big breakfast to fuel myself well for the day ahead. Pre-isolation, I would head to my favourite local cafe and try not to look at my phone until I got there, then I’d sit down properly to go through my emails.
That makes sure I have time to orientate myself and plan the day’s to-do list so the day doesn’t get away from you.
The whole middle of the day is then taken up by whatever is happening at the time – I could be recording or editing a podcast, meeting partners/suppliers/collaborators, heading to Matcha Mylkbar to coordinate cafe operations, doing behind the scenes admin like our BAS, writing part of the Seize the Yay book, or anything in between.
I used to eat lunch on the run a lot, but I’ve been trying to sit down for a proper break in the middle of the day and then I’ll work up until dinner time. I like to exercise in the middle of the day too.
I’m a terrible early morning person for exercise and in the evening I’m too much of a sloth, so I often do a class before I break to eat lunch and to clear my mind for the second half of the day.
After dinner, I try not to work unless we haven’t something really urgent and will meditate again then unwind with a good trashy TV show!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yep, our work is pretty much only flexible and remote! I think some people really rely on structure and consistency to thrive and, when I was a corporate, I didn’t dislike that set up but I am much more suited to diversity and change.
So I love being able to work from anywhere and everywhere and being able to control what tasks I’m doing based on my energy levels or on what my brain is feeling like.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
It’s such an interesting concept and I completely understand why some people, especially mums who also run businesses, don’t believe in it. For some people, it’s all work and it’s all life, so the term can seem superficial.
But I personally find it really helpful to aim for some kind of equilibrium between being “on” and switching “off” – I love working hard and learning, so if I didn’t have a reminder to slow down and take breaks, I’d work myself to exhaustion (which I mentioned has already happened many times).
Even if you don’t feel like you need interests or activities outside of work, we all really do – if not for energy and wellbeing alone, then for creativity and staying fresh! I find that my best ideas come after I’ve taken a break from work and can see things clearly.
So for all sorts of reasons, balance is really important to me and I can’t say I’ve quite found the right one just yet but I’m getting better at it. The main way I’ve learnt to integrate more rest and downtime into my life has been to block it out in my calendar with the same level of importance as a work meeting.
If you don’t treat it the same way, you won’t value it the same way and you’ll keep cancelling or pushing it back until it’s too late. So that’s been a big strategy for me to keep on top of the activities that help me refill my cup!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
The pandemic has definitely introduced a BIG chunk of slower, home time into my weeks than I had before.
I hadn’t realised just how much we fill our weeks with stimulation and exertion, even just catch ups with friends or events, and they all contribute to zapping your energy which is finite after all!
That’s been a huge change to our routine, but a wonderful one – it’s reminded me how much of a homebody I truly am and how much I was missing that quiet, introspective time to recharge between all the busy-ness.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I ADORE reading and have been doing much more of it in isolation – again, sometimes you have to rewire your brain to categorise things as a “worthy” expenditure of time and reading has come right back into the fore.
I’m a huge crime fiction reader, so I’d highly recommend The Pilgrim, anything by Jane Harper, Chris Hammer or Dervla McTiernan – they’re my recent favourites. Outside of crime, I was recommended Educated by Tara Westover by so many people and it didn’t disappoint – it’s one of the best books I’ve read and highly recommend it for readers of all genres.
Podcast wise, I could go on forever! In crime, I’d say Serial, Teacher’s Pet, Claremont, True Crime Podcast. Otherwise, Shameless, Healthy Hustlers, Joe Rogan, Gary Vee. I’m a voracious consumer of content!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Ooooh I’m not a big gadget person and the only products I can’t live without are food-related. App-wise, obviously Instagram is basically a vital organ so probably that would be my main one? I’m sure I have a better answer for this one, but I can’t think, UberEats?
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think we all get really bogged down in the details of things, missing the bigger picture that’s important. So one of my favourite quotes in all areas of life is: “people will never remember what you said or what you did, they’ll always remember how you made them feel.”
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