Balancing the Grind with Tara O’Reilly, Head of Partnerships at The Daily Aus

Tara O’Reilly is the Head of Partnerships at The Daily Aus, an Australian media company offering young Aussies a digestible and engaging way to access the news.

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

I studied political economy at UC Berkeley during the height of the Trump presidency and came back to Australia brimming with ideas about wanting to get young people to care deeply about the news and world around them.

That’s when I happened across The Daily Aus, which was exactly what I wished I had when I was growing up – a concise, accessible and non-judgemental way of delivering news for young Aussies.

I was determined to get involved with TDA, and went to great lengths (read: daily Linkedin messages) to meet with one of the founders. That persistence paid off and I was lucky enough to be hired as the first employee of TDA.

Fast forward 18 months, I am now the Head of Partnerships in a fully-fledged media company and lead TDA’s commercial and partner opportunities. We have spent the past year developing the commercial strategy and figuring out how to continue growing our audience without ever forfeiting the trust they have in us. It’s been a wild journey and safe to say I couldn’t have expected a few LinkedIn messages would lead me to where I am now!

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

My first meeting of the day is at 9 am, so I like to get up early and exercise before settling at my desk for the day. From there, I’ll start by reading the day’s news and catching up on what I missed overnight then straight into organising the day’s sponsorships.

I’m most productive in the afternoon, so I spend my typical morning preparing myself for meetings and brainstorming by replying to all necessary emails and ensuring all of our sponsorships are on track. I use my lunch breaks to get some life admin out of the way (these usually slip to the bottom of the to-do list). 

At night I like to try new restaurants, cook with my housemates or just get out and about. I find having the separation between my desk and the rest of my day very important for productivity every day. 

Working in a start-up means my days are incredibly varied. Sometimes I spend most of the day on client calls, pitching partnership proposals. On other days I brainstorm how we can improve our offerings and grow the business.

My favourite days consist of a bit of both. The relationships I build with our partners is one of my favourite parts of my role. I really enjoy creating meaningful relationships with companies that really believe in what we are doing and are keen to align themselves with us.

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

For me, work-life balance takes into consideration the fact that I am the first port of call for our clients. I try to lean into the quieter times of the year to contrast the more chaotic months. 

During the quieter times, I prioritise detaching from work as much as possible and creating a bit of mental space to recharge and clear my mind before things pick up again. Prioritising seeing more friends, and trying new activities during these times allows me to double down in the big moments and continue generating fresh ideas.

In the more hectic moments of the year, I find balance through different forms of more relaxing exercise (I love yoga and pilates). I also love using my lunch breaks to do something fun away from my desk. I find this breaks up my day and helps me stay productive until the end of the day. 

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

One routine I started during COVID was journaling. I started because I didn’t want to forget our very unusual experiences, and predict it will be a period that needs to be recounted to a younger generation. I considered it my personal history book.

Now, it is a practice I rely on to clear my mind. Writing about yourself initially feels a bit strange but I have found the benefits of journaling amazing. I can feel a real difference when I don’t prioritise it for a few weeks – it leaves me feeling clear headed and more balanced.

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

The first thing I read in the morning is The Daily Aus newsletter so I can definitely recommend that! It gives me a perfect snapshot of the day and leaves me feeling very up-to-date.

Being around journalists is terrific because they constantly recommend interesting articles to read. A personal recommendation would be The Resilience Project by Hugh van Cuylenburg – it was a pretty life-changing book for me. I read it at a time when I needed a bit of extra perspective so it really shaped some important daily practices for me. 

Other than that, my friend recently recommended Woman Code by Alisa Vitti to me. I read it in about 5 hours, and I now reference it most days. If you find the female cycle interesting, this is a great one. 

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

It would definitely be the experience of other young founders in the middle of developing their businesses. I greatly admire young people who have backed themselves to launch a business. I find their route and the source of their determination extremely fascinating. 

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

A thought I try to live by is to “find calm in the chaos.” Our lives move fast – especially in the world of news and social media – so waiting eternally for moments of calmness can feel never-ending. I try to find calmness even when things are hectic to help reduce overwhelm. Easier said than done but it’s a great one to remember!

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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.