Adam Zuchetti is the Co-Founder of Paws N’ All, a subscription and gift pack service for pets. He is also freelancing as a journalist and copywriter.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I was one of those kids who had no idea what I wanted to do once I finished school. Somehow I fell into journalism and loved it. Over the past 13 years, I’ve specialised in covering property, personal finance and, most recently, small business as the editor of the My Business brand.
The two biggest investments most people make in their lives are purchasing property and operating a business. And that brings a whole lot of psychology into play. I love watching and learning about how people tick, their approach to challenges and how they go about achieving their goals.
Reporting on small business wasn’t much of a stretch to then try entrepreneurship for myself. So in early 2020, I left my full-time job as a journalist to launch my own business called Paws N’ All, a subscription and gift pack service for pets that relies heavily on personalisation. The idea behind it is that every pet is different, so why should every pet subscription box and gift hamper the same?
I’m building that up while also freelancing as a journo and copywriter.
2) What does a day in the life of you look like? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m now effectively running two businesses at once, so my days are loooooong! But I’m also mindful of my health and wellbeing.
I’ll start my day with a home workout or at least some stretches (there are great mobile apps to guide you through this!), then have breakfast while working out what my day looks like and what points I need to action.
I’ve found that I perform different tasks better in different ways, so I make sure each has its own space. For example, I generate better ideas when I’m on my feet, so I have whiteboard on wheels in my home office. When I’m writing, I need to sit and concentrate, so I put headphones on and listen to music to drown out general distractions. I’ve also converted my spare room into a studio and packing room, to keep my desk clear of product and packing materials.
I always try to have a lunch break too: that is, closing the door on the office and eating away from my desk. I might also walk the dog or watch a short episode of a favourite TV show to really make it a mental as well as a physical break. The same rule applies to dinner time.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
One of the best things about being self-employed is the control you have over both where and when you work! But ironically it can also be suffocating, if you’re always working and don’t have that 9-5 routine put on you externally.
I think the trick is to be really disciplined in setting your own routine. Try and get up at the same time each day, plan when your meal breaks and exercise time will be each day (ideally the same, but some flexibility is obviously needed) and then structure your workload around those.
If you don’t, you can easily work for 8, 10, 12 hours or more straight, which just isn’t healthy.
You also have to be more proactive about seeing and talking to other people, both professionally and personally. Otherwise working remotely can be a really lonely experience.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
As anyone launching a new business will know, it is a huge drain on your time. There is so much on your to do list even before you start engaging with customers/clients. But you do it is an investment that you hope will pay you back in the longer term.
For me, I think work/life balance is not something you can plot out on paper and then go and away and do – it is very much an evolving state. And you need to evolve with your changing workload to maintain some form of balance.
That means making the basics of sleep, eating, drinking enough water and some form of exercise part of your daily routine – not something you try and fit in if you can. Schedule work around life essentials, not the other way around.
I also try to include both social and “me” time in the week, even if just a couple of hours. Because if it isn’t scheduled, it just doesn’t seem to happen.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Doing workouts and stretches at home has been something I’ve introduced in 2020, and the impact it’s had has been incredible. I think investing that time initially is now paying dividends in terms of improved concentration and better productivity.
I’m finding that I can now survive longer working hours because my muscles, posture and overall body are in a better place.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
There is a book called 50 Unsung Business Heroes: it’s a series of profiles on Australian business owners who you’ve probably never heard of outside of their particular industry. But that makes their stories even better, because they aren’t the ones that everyone has heard over and over again.
They have some great insights, including on their approach to balancing their work and everyday life, raising kids etc. Many have been through major health crises or other disasters that really forced them to focus on what is important and adapt their working life in ways that deliver a healthy balance.
I’ve been lucky enough to interview a couple of those featured in both versions of the book over the years, and found their experiences really insightful.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Call me old fashioned, but I can’t live without my paper Filofax. I’ll have calendar reminders set in my phone as a back-up, but I find physically writing things down with pen and paper is what commits them to memory.
I think it’s also visually helpful too when it comes to reading things back. A digital calendar can look really cluttered – especially when you have overlapping meetings/deadlines. Whereas a diary has things neatly itemised line by line.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d have to say Ashleigh Barty, the professional tennis player. She seems so grounded and family-oriented, yet obviously has to put in a huge amount of training and travel to be the number one women’s player in the world. It would be interesting to know how she manages not to let work and training overtake her life and personal relationships.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s important to be really aware of yourself. Are you getting irritable? Is your memory becoming fuzzy? Are you putting on or losing weight? Are your lips/eyes/skin becoming dry?
All of these things can be symptoms that you’re not getting enough of something – sleep, downtime, water, healthy foods, exercise.
If you recognise these things, I’d suggest you look at what’s ultimately causing them and then put steps in place to address them. Because it’s much easier to change small problems now than to grapple with major problems these things can eventually lead to, like a health crisis, divorce or burnout!
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