Interviews, Marketing & Comms

Balancing the Grind With Genevieve Deaconos, Events & Engagement Manager at QUT Business School

June 27, 2019

Genevieve Deaconos is the Events & Engagement Manager at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Business School, where she leads a team of seven talented events and marketing professionals in managing social media, alumni relations and major corporate engagement events.

Balance the Grind spoke to Genevieve about a typical day in her life, balancing work life with two young children, optimising her productivity, having an equal partnership with her husband and more.

This conversation is brought to you by Freelancer.com, the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace.

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

I have spent the last fifteen years focused on event management and delivering engagement marketing strategies for companies both large and small. In between, I have started a few small businesses, had two children and collected a few degrees.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I am currently Events & Engagement Manager at QUT Business School.

I lead a team of seven brilliant and talented events and marketing professionals, and together we manage social media, alumni relations and major corporate engagement events for QUT Business School, including the QUT Business Leaders’ Forum and the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame.

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

I usually wake up at 5:15am or so, and try to squeeze in some exercise and get ready before the kids wake up.

From 6am to 7am it’s the mayhem of trying to catch two small children and wrestle them into clothes, feed them and brush their teeth before loading them into the car and depositing them at school and day care.

To transition from home life to work life, I like to sit for fifteen minutes at a cafe outside, drink a coffee and take a moment to collect my thoughts before the work day starts. This concept of the ‘Third Space’ has been really useful for me, and this time is when I plan my day.

By 8:10am or so I am at my desk. My work day involves one-on-one meetings with my team, strategic planning, collaborations with other parts of the university, connecting with our corporate partners to maintain those relationships, and ensuring all our events and projects are on brand, on time and on budget.

I leave my desk at 5pm most days, unless I have an evening event. I scoop up the kids and we are home by 6pm for more mayhem, dinner and family time.

I try and read for half an hour or so before bed. Or watch TV with a big glass of wine, depending on the stress levels of the day.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?

I’m on a mission this year to optimise my productivity, and one of the things I have found most useful is to spend some time every day writing down the one thing you want to achieve over everything else.

Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (Make Time) call this your highlight. It’s easy to have a massive to-do list and get completely caught up in getting everything done, but that’s not always the most productive way to operate.

I still have a to-do list, but I’m trying to spend most of my time doing the few things that have the most impact. It’s a work in progress.

I’ve also tried to align my schedule with my energy peaks and troughs throughout the day, planning chunks of focused work in the morning, and meetings in the afternoon. That helps.

5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

I am lucky as my husband and I have a truly equal partnership – we both have a strong family focus and spend equal time looking after the kids and the house.

When his work is particularly demanding, I might step up a bit more, and then vice-versa when my work life gets hectic.

It enables us both to have rewarding careers and also raise our family the way we want to. Without that partnership, I think any sort of balance would be impossible.

I am also fortunate enough to have a wonderful woman come and clean our house – it stresses me out when the house gets dirty, so she is an investment in my sanity.

I also refuse to iron anything. All our clothes are pretty much wash and hang. I don’t think I have ironed anything since my first son was born. Life is too short for ironing!

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

My happy place is the beach. We go to the coast almost every weekend, rain or shine, and it’s how we all recharge and reconnect after a busy week.

I also try to do at least two yoga classes per week. When I go too long without yoga I seem to stop breathing properly, my shoulders get all tense… it’s not good.

7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

  • Get up early to exercise (even if it’s only ten minutes). It is a game-changer.
  • Identify a highlight/key focus for each work day, don’t get caught up in a million tasks and emails that dilute your attention.
  • Don’t look at the phone during family time. I try and leave my phone in my bag when I get home in the evening, at least until after I put the kids to bed.
  • Set blockers on the computer for those moments of weakness when you diverge from the work you should be doing and want to go online shopping or check social media. StayFocusd is a great program, easy to set up and really keeps you accountable. Self-discipline is partially in your mind, but more in the preparation.
  • Eat well. My energy levels drop when I don’t make the effort to eat quality food. Best diet advice I ever read was by Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That works, and it’s easy to remember.

8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

So many. A few I have read recently that I would recommend are:

9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Have a coffee, and make sure it’s a good one. I only drink one coffee per day, but if I don’t get it – the day is a write off.

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