Balancing the Grind with Simone Vrabac, General Counsel at JobAdder

Simone Vrabac is the General Counsel at JobAdder, a global recruitment software solution that helps tens of thousands of agency and in-house recruiters from around the world.

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

I’ve worked in the legal profession for about 14 years. I’m currently General Counsel at a company called JobAdder that creates beautiful, intuitive software for recruiters and inhouse talent teams.

I am lucky enough to have worked in all three major sectors within the legal industry. I started my career in an enforcement role at the ACCC. From there I moved to a boutique commercial law firm in Sydney and then landed a role in-house at eBay.

At eBay, I discovered my love of working as a lawyer within a business. From eBay, I moved to Gumtree. I then had a brief spell back at the ACCC before moving into my current role.

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

Today, I was up at 6:15. I try to create some space and time for the kids and I in the morning for play, a cuddle or a chat before we start the morning routine.

At about 7, it’s breakfast and daycare drop-offs before starting work at around 8:30. I’m lucky in that I largely work from home, and daycare is walking distance from our house, so I get a bit of fresh air and a walk in on the daycare run.

Once I login, I like to plan my day. Depending on my meeting schedule, I set myself one to two high priority items I want to close that day. Once those two “big tickets” are set, I look over email etc to see what else has to be slotted in as a priority for today, what is a “nice to have done” and “what can be actioned later” or delegated.

I find when I start the day by creating a plan, rather than reacting immediately to emails, I work on the most important/impactful things first. Of course, not every day can start like this. Some days start as chaos and end as chaos, but I try my best to start my days with a goal.

I’m a morning person, so I usually work on my “big ticket” priorities through to lunch. I always lock in some sort of break around lunch. I need it to clear my head and recharge. If I’m lucky I get a walk in too.

After lunch, it’s an afternoon work block before a hard stop at 5/5:15 to collect the kids. I then devote a couple of hours to family time and the “dinner, bath and bed” routine. On a calm work day, I have a couple of hours for life admin and time with my husband before bed. On a busier day, I login for a couple of hours of work after the kids are asleep.

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

To be honest, I’m still figuring out what a good work-life balance looks like with two small children and a job that I love, but that can be quite full-on at times. I feel pressure on many fronts daily and trying to avoid burnout is a real challenge.

Right now, for me work-life balance is about having the flexibility to fuse work and life in a way that is sustainable mentally, where all the “big things” on the work front get done but that I have the space to spend quality time with my husband and girls.

To achieve this is a constant planning and prioritisation exercise on both the work and home front. The juggle is real! Some days I feel like I fail on all fronts and other days it’s all big mental high fives. My husband and I make a pretty great team.

He works 4 days a week, which helps us manage the load as a family. I’m also lucky because JobAdder truly allows for flexible work, so there is no issue if I need to duck out for a child related event during the day but then put in a few extra work hours after my kids are in bed.

I have found that I am much more productive at work and less stressed at home when I am fully present in what I’m doing on both fronts. So when it’s work time, it’s work time and I aim to get into a flow with that.

When it’s family time, the phone is off and I’m really with my girls and husband. I’ve also made a conscious effort to not beat myself up if things are not perfect. Often, good enough really is good enough.

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

I have stopped checking my phone first thing in the morning and right before bed. I think it has helped both my sleep quality and my morning focus.

Over the next 12 months I would love to make space for a consistent exercise routine, but baby steps! 

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

I love a good Brene Brown book, TED talk or Netflix special. I also like Glennon Doyle’s podcast, We Can Do Hard Things.

As far as books go, I really enjoyed the book Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick and I’m currently reading Raising Girls Who Like Themselves, which I’m finding fascinating as a mother of two young girls.

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

Dolly Parton.

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

I don’t think there is a silver bullet for managing work and everything else. It’s such a personal thing. For myself, I just always try to remember that time is finite and life is constantly making tradeoffs of that time.

My ultimate goal is to have lived a full and content life where my time was spent doing work I enjoyed, building great memories with my friends and family and with as few regrets as possible.

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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.