Katie Walmsley is the Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer at Australian start-up BenchOn, a business only sharing economy platform.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am the COO and co-founder of an Australian start-up called BenchOn. Throughout my career I have always worked in fast-faced environments covering all aspects of business operations and management.
I struggled to find what I wanted to study at university so I transferred across 5 different degrees and finally graduated with a Bachelor Psychology majoring in Organisational Behaviour.
I never expected that it would be my indecision regarding my qualifications that would set me up for my most rewarding position yet. My incomplete marketing, journalism, business and commerce degrees have given me quite a foundation to run a start-up and be a jack-of-all-trades.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days are usually chaotic and very rarely run smoothly. I have 2 young children so once I get them sorted my focus is the business.
Being a co-founder of a start-up there is rarely anyone to delegate to so I spend my day responding to the MUST DO list and then return back to work after hours to finish off the tasks that did not get done during daylight hours.
Start-ups keep their head count low so not only am I responsible for COO duties, I manage all operational tasks and procedures, administration, customer service, accounts, HR, some business development, technical requirements, testing and whatever else needs to be done. There are never enough hours in a day.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
My role definitely allows for flexible or remote working, as a company we value the job getting done not how many hours you work.
This is important to me as a business owner to still be able to be present for my children, I am able to be at most things that are important and I am more than happy to commit other time whether it be late at night or early morning to ensure I have all of my responsibilities completed on time.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I don’t believe a work life balance is something that can be achieved and sustained. I prefer the term work-life balancing act!
My goal regarding the work-life balancing act is to not focus so much on it and certainly not put added pressure on myself. I find many people I encounter put a lot of energy in trying to achieve this balance but like all things, to maintain a balance requires constant reassessment and adjustment.
The part I find disheartening is that on the quest to finding or establishing a balance people quite often feel like they are failing and it further contributes to a negative state of mind. My outlook is that I am human, I will do what I can, I will fix what I can, I will admit when I can’t and I will reassess and adjust when I need to.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
One strategy I have found is that at the beginning of the day I create a list of all the things that I need to get done today (no matter how small). From this list I immediately move what does not need to be completed today to tomorrow’s lists.
Anything that is still on the list at the end of the day gets transferred to tomorrow. This one habit helps me manage expectations of myself and then I know what I can commit to or take on if asked.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
There are two:
Who Moved My Cheese? which helped me to understand that I need to take charge of my own happiness and success.
The other is the The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I don’t mean to be rude but when I read this book I finally understood that I was trying to live up to other people’s expectations of me and not my own.
I learned to not care so much on what others expect of me or think of me and focus on how I feel about myself and my performance. I am usually my harshest critique so other people’s opinions and judgments just really don’t get a vote at the end of the day.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I struggle with this. If I am having a messy day then the best thing for me to do is just accept it. I learned a long time ago that to be truly efficient (which is a goal I am always chasing) you should never handle something more than once. Therefore I do not take a task on unless I am prepared and able to complete my part.
I find this way I get a sense of productivity by being able to remove things in their entirety from the list and I don’t waste time moving backwards and forwards between tasks. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised how much time I save.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Janine Allis, she is always very honest.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t stress about it, sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!