Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Simon Clark, Founder of Sustainable Homes Melbourne

Simon Clark is the founder of Sustainable Homes Melbourne, Melbourne’s leading renovation expert offering forward-thinking transformations that respect the Australian environment.

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

I began my career as a carpenter in the year 2000 and am a self-confessed timber nerd. I launched my business, Sustainable Homes Melbourne, after a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the USA, Canada, the UK and Europe opened my eyes to the possibilities of well-insulated, sustainable building methods. 

Sustainable Homes Melbourne (SHM) is Melbourne’s leading energy-efficient renovation expert, designing and building beautiful, liveable transformations that respect the Australian environment.

Since launching in 2014, we have completed over 40 projects to date in Melbourne’s inner city. All projects are designed and built using the latest sustainability principles to create beautiful, energy-efficient homes that last. 

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

I’ve been trying to fine-tune this for years, but here’s how things currently look. 

At 5.40 am my alarm goes off. I hit snooze til 6 am or 6.10 am. I call the next step WWW: Wake, Wash, Water. At around 6.15 am, I meditate and write in my journal. Then it’s breakfast at 6.45 am, and I’m at my home desk by 7.15 am.

We’ve embraced a hybrid style of work for the office-bound part of the team. I find I get much more focused work completed when I work from home.

This routine gets thrown around when I drive into the office two to three days per week. I live in Victoria, which is about an hour from the office. I will always try to leave before 7 am.

My mornings are filled with all sorts of meetings from sales, to design and construction. When I’m at the office I’ll try and pinpoint moments between meetings to get some ‘real’ work done.

I wrap things up between 5-6 pm, and I try to fit in a workout between 6-pm-7 pm three to four days per week

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

I work a lot but you can always have too much of one thing. As a result, I’ve set a few boundaries, including no talk about work after dinner, and never doing work on Sundays. When I’m not working, I’m not working – especially when I’m away on holiday. 

I used to lose sleep thinking: ‘are we doing enough to lower the impact our homes have?’ This had quite a big impact on my work/life balance, because worries about work were invading my non-work time. 

Throughout the years I’ve realised it takes time to have a real positive impact, particularly in an industry that has hardly changed for decades. I love what I do and the positive impact it has on people’s lives and our planet.

All our construction is completed with a light touch, meaning waste is kept to a minimum where possible, and disposed of correctly through various expert partners. I’m now able to rest easy knowing SHM is striving to do better with each and every project we deliver.

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

I’ve wanted to journal for years, and I have finally gotten into it in the past few months. It’s been great to sharpen my focus and keep me on track.

Otherwise, I’m a big believer in consistency. As cliche as it is, it works.

I won’t go to sleep without reading at least some portion of a book, often to the dismay of my partner.

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

I love books and there are a few I keep coming back to:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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

Ray Dalio. In the twilight of his extremely successful career, he has a great grasp on what’s important in life. I enjoy his philosophy around doing meaningful work and having meaningful relationships with the people you care about.

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

There’s no one trick pony or one size fits all to get ‘life’ right. We all fumble our way through life in the pursuit of happiness and better days. Don’t take yourself too seriously, do something you enjoy and will be proud to tell your grandchildren about.

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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.