Balancing the Grind with Tim Jeffries, Director of The Good Cup

Tim Jeffries is a small business consultant, working with clients across industries such as law firms, eCommerce, non-profit, and more.

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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 across (in chronological order) retail, IT, religious, community development, not for profit, education and training, legal and now tech/management consulting sectors.

Over that time I’ve come to understand my natural abilities and honed my skills at the intersection of people, systems and technology. Despite the variation in industry I’ve often played the same kind of role, I always seem to end up helping others to do their best work.

I really love coming alongside leaders or whole teams, understanding what they’re trying to do and helping them thrive by leveraging tech, improving their systems or utilising the potential of their relationships.

This has all led me to my current role consulting to small businesses. I have clients across a broad spectrum of industries. I do a lot of work with law firms who practice in the Children’s and Magistrates Courts in Victoria under the banner of Best Practice Management.

Increasingly I’m also consulting businesses who want to use under the banner of I love the variation of working across a wide range of fields.

I’m currently working with an eCommerce business in Melbourne, several law firms across Melbourne and regional Victoria, an Urban Farm in San Diego, a personal finance coaching business here in Geelong as well as a not-for-profit. 

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

This is the plan Monday to Friday.

  • 5:30 – wake
  • 6 – 7 – Crossfit
  • 7 – 8:30 – get kids to school and kinder
  • 8:30 – 9 – morning routine – check calendar, actions for the day, triage email for disasters, knock of any “quick” tasks
  • 9 – 1 – deep work. Clear focussed project work with no distractions or interruptions. No meetings, email, social media, etc.
  • 1 – 1:30 – lunch with my wife or a friend.
  • 1:30 – 4:30 – meetings, tasks requiring less focus, reading, learning.
  • 4:30 – 5 – evening routine – empty head of ideas, clear inboxes, confirm actions for tomorrow
  • 5 – 6 – walk dog, hang with kids, chill out
  • 6 – 8 – dinner, kids bedtime routine, clean up house
  • 8 – 9 – relax, voluntary work, meetings
  • 9 – 10 – prepare to sleep

Reality is usually a variation on this theme. My deep work blocks often get interrupted by something that can’t wait. Sometimes a client, sometimes a family member. This routine is an aspiration, I don’t beat myself up if I don’t achieve it every day.

Also the structure is helpful because it creates a base for spontaneity and opportunity. I am very happy to go with the flow when an opportunity arises because I know most of my life holds to a structure that makes it work.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

My role is super flexible. I have very few things I must do at a specific time which is absolutely perfect for my stage of life.

It means I have to be super disciplined because I don’t have many external forces pressuring me to get things done. I’ve learnt to love that responsibility and it would be a struggle to go back to the other mode with someone looking over my shoulder.

I have an office in my home that I share with my wife. We do heaps of video conferencing from there and occasionally I’ll go and meet with clients in person.

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

For me it means 

  • being mentally and physically healthy. 
  • spending significant moments and quality time with family and friends. 
  • running my business with generosity, which means financially, relationally and intellectually. 
  • ensuring I’m doing work I believe in and seeing others succeed. 
  • learning and developing new skills.
  • building all kinds of wealth.

I’m fortunate to share my work and life journey really closely with my wife. We work together, raise four kids together, share many friendships and are so closely aligned that we help each other stay accountable to achieving balance.

That’s not meant to be a soppy romantic statement. We are wildly different but our shared values and high vulnerability means I am too easily seen to fool her or myself that I have balance when I don’t.

We’ve also been really fortunate financially and that has allowed us to make decisions based on achieving balance that not have been possible otherwise. 

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

I joined a Crossfit gym and have slowly ramped up my attendance from 3 mornings per week, to 4 and then quite recently to 5. Exercise is a keystone habit for me. If I’m exercising regularly I eat better, sleep better, drink less and find it easier to focus.

I wasn’t wildly out of shape before this but my exercise routine was haphazard. I decided joining Crossfit was a great way to outsource the need for expertise, equipment and motivation. All I have to do is rock up and there’s a great bunch of people waiting there for me who help me make progress and most importantly keep the habit.

I think building habits is a secret weapon. I just pick one at a time and keep at it until it’s ingrained enough that it’s hard not to follow it.

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

In the last couple of years I’ve most appreciated these books in this area:

  • Waking Up by Sam Harris
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport

On the newsletter front

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

  • I build all my personal workflows into Notion so that is definitely at the top of the list.
  • AirPods are an essential item living in a house with 4 children.
  • I couldn’t imagine trying to do my work without my Mac with three screens, a mirrorless camera that makes me look better than I do in real life and a mechanical keyboard that is super satisfying to type on.

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

Barack Obama. Surely in a job like that you just have to give up and tell your family that you’ll see them in 4 to 8 years. 

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

I keep learning that life has seasons and you won’t win if you fight them. If you’ve got little kids then embrace the chaos and live with them in the moment more often than not. If you’re unwell then remember what’s important and focus on your health and those you love. If you’ve got space and passion throw yourself at something you believe in. 

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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.