Balancing the Grind with Tim Newton, Senior Creative at Wunderman Thompson

Tim Newton is a Perth-based Senior Creative at Wunderman Thompson, a creative agency, consultancy and technology company.

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

My career background is pretty simple, I started off at a small digital agency after I did AWARD school, then moved onto a lovely independent agency where my partner and I got to learn and develop in a really positive and nurturing environment.

From there we moved to JWT (now WT) and have been here since. My current role is as a Senior Creative.

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

There are lots of cups of tea in my workday, not because of lack of sleep or anything, but because I need micro-breaks to help me think.

But, other than that, on any given day it can be a mix between large conceptual jobs and more day-to-day jobs mixed in with brand building stuff like photoshoots, etc. And of course a lot of overseeing the production of our concepts, attending radio records, shoots, etc., with a few meetings sprinkled in for good measure.

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

Absolutely, I actually moved to a nine-day-fortnight after I had my first kid, which has been an amazing opportunity to experience more of the things that I value from home.

It has been a learning curve at times, and I think a lot of people who do similar things find themselves stuck between a choice of career progression or family time, but I see the time I get with the family as a form of career progression.

I learn more from that time, which gives me valuable insights into briefs and empathising with people. It also helps from a quality of life point of view, and we do our best work when we are happy and satisfied!

Remote working has definitely become a thing for me, but only recently since COVID, it was less prevalent before but feels like it’ll be around for the foreseeable future now.

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

I find the term work-life balance a bit difficult at times, it hints at a very clear divide between two worlds that increasingly is just not there. Employees are required to be more accessible and work and life doesn’t just happen between a set of predefined hours.

But, at the same time, setting boundaries on that accessibility is also important. I guess for me it is about being able to manage your workflow and personal life in a way that gives you the most satisfaction.

Some people are very happy working 9-5 and seeing their family after. Others, I think particularly in creative pursuits, find it difficult because it’s tough to put an hour value on how long it will take to meet a creative expectation, so it tends to bleed into other parts of your day.

I guess it’s just about finding the best way for you as an individual to manage your work and home expectations, whatever that might be.

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

I’ve started doing yoga! It’s a good combo of mindfulness and fitness that helps me let go of and process things. And, I’ve tried to focus on being more mindful and empathetic in general.

It’s a trait that I increasingly see neglected, especially in stressful times and especially by guys, so it’s something that I work hard on making myself better at.

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

Hmmmm, I have a very eclectic list of things that I watch and engage with, I tend to get really deeply engaged with a topic and then move on.

I also tend to look outside the industry for my inspiration (of course I also look at the great work that is around) but I find insular learning from advertising a small part of the puzzle. I really enjoy the outdoors, so love Outside Online for articles and stories.

I read WIRED for a bit of tech inspiration; Sam Harris’s Waking Up app is also great. Through my wife’s job (as a dog trainer) I have developed a bit of a passion for dog-related podcasts, Drinking From The Toilet is one that I listen to for a bit of dog behavioural psychology/training.

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

I like to think not, I prefer not to become too tied into something to the extent that it becomes integral to my life, but there are definitely things that I find enhance my life.

My running watch is a personal favourite to help me push myself, I mentioned Sam Harris’ Waking Up app earlier which is really great for mindfulness.

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

I actually read one recently by someone not a lot of people would know, Ben Mowen, who is an ex-Wallabies captain and a very good rugby player.

He’s not someone whose name I would have put forward until I read the article, but he has a really interesting story. At the peak of his career, and relatively new to test rugby, he became the Wallabies captain briefly before he decided to retire from international rugby to spend more time with his family.

I was really taken aback by how brave a move this was in a world that piles expectations on new fathers to be the best at work and at home. It reminded me that success in a work sense isn’t only derived from being in the highest position, it’s derived from your satisfaction within the job.

A lot of people would have seen his move as a compromise on his career, but I don’t, and I don’t think he would either, he still plays at a very high level and is very successful and I look up to his decision as a great example for others.

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

Nothing is black and white, success in any area of life is a personal journey that people should feel empowered to manage in a way that is appropriate for them.

Society piles a lot of expectations on us in regard to success and the pressure we feel from that isn’t always conducive to the kind of success we want as individuals.

Finding that sweet spot for your own success story is hard but it is your decision and you should be comfortable with it, no one should impose their version of success on you.

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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.