Balancing the Grind with Shane o’Doherty, Executive Producer at Savage Films

Shane o’Doherty is an Executive Producer at Savage Films, a production company for film and advertising, based in London.

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

I’m currently the Exec. Producer at Savage Films AND also the Account Director at GRAFT, a post-production studio I founded 5 years ago.

Before my current position(s), I was primarily engaged in motion graphics design, as a freelancer & in-house, at some of London’s larger advertising agencies – Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy, Oliver.

My career has progressed fairly typically, taking on more and bigger projects until it became necessary to build a team around me to deliver on these.  

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

My workday is a little varied, but it will always consist of a team check-in, some project-specific creative oversight or conversation, and a lot of conversation with our clients and partners, to discuss previous, current or upcoming projects and ensure we’re on the same page at all times.

It’s never boring, last week I spent a day racing around London, from a meeting with a really exciting young studio in the morning, to team monthly check-ins all afternoon, straight into client drinks in the early evening, all while managing delivery of some tense agreement documents from my emails – never a dull moment!

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

I’ve been a small business owner for 5 years now and it’s true that this can take over your every waking hour if you let it – certainly if you’re doing it during a pandemic and a cost of living crisis! I frequently work evenings but I do that with a medium-term plan of trimming back my hours as much as possible, once I have delivered some of the key targets I’m aiming for in the year ahead.

I have a young family, so I draw a line at working weekends, and I always pause work to put my sons to bed, then pick it up again once they’re asleep.

The biggest challenge for me has been trying to be mentally present, at work when I’m working AND at home, when I’m not. The aim is to catch myself when my thoughts drift away from the moment, and I’m getting better at it, but it’s a real conscious challenge.

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

I am extremely time poor at the moment, much more than I’ve ever been before, so my opportunities to decompress are limited. In response to this I choose to walk everywhere possible, which I absolutely love.

It combines physical exercise and an opportunity to mentally reflect or detangle anything I’m currently working out in my head. I’ve especially found it useful to walk to and from my office each day, it’s a 40-45 minute walk so it’s a really good chance to leave the work day behind and really engage when I arrive home in the evenings.

In the summer months I squeeze in a lunchtime 5k run along the canals too, for a massive energy & good mood burst in the afternoon – highly recommended.

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

I’m obsessed with podcasts. I love a business podcast (Business Anchors or Diary of a CEO are both excellent), a comedy one (Three Bean Salad, The Comedian’s Comedian) or current affairs (The Rest is Politics, An Irishman Abroad) – I listen while I walk, while I email, even when animating. 

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

I’d LOVE to know more about high-achieving parents, because quite a lot of the go-to celebrity entrepreneurs are young, high energy and willing to sacrifice their time to build for their futures. I understand that model, but what happens when you have considerations you’re not willing to sacrifice (picking your kids up from nursery or all sitting down to dinner/breakfast as a family)?

Strictly speaking, it would seem a disadvantage but in my experience it’s been an incredible motivator, driving me to make difficult decisions faster. I’d love to know if others have had similar or wildly different experiences!

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

There are a lot of quite polarising viewpoints on work-life balance out there. In my experience it’s a much more fluid thing, especially as a small business owner. Sometimes you’re over-working, sometimes you’re quiet.

I am a big believer in being acutely conscious of your decision making when it comes to work to save from being overwhelmed by it. “Do I need to do another hour this evening?” for example. If it means a calmer tomorrow, and you’ve got the energy, then go for it.

If you’ve been neglecting watching TV, reading a book or going for a walk, then maybe doing that will lead to a better night’s sleep, which will leave you in a better place to tackle any work in the morning than burning the midnight oil ever could. Make your decision and commit to it. Then stop thinking about it. Tomorrow will invariably bring a hundred more.

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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.