Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Mike Migas, Producer at Casefile True Crime Podcast

October 6, 2019

Mike Migas is an audio editor, composer and producer, currently working on Casefile, one of the most popular true crime podcasts.

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

Sure thing. I was born in Poland in 1987, and since I was a kid, I was interested in music. Besides going to a normal primary school, I also attended a music school for four years – piano lessons, theory and all the usual curriculum.

After that, during my teenage years, I attended another music school, this time guitar lessons. I played in a few bands with my friends, and when I graduated from high school at 18, I left Poland and moved to England in the United Kingdom.

I supported myself since then and graduated from a university with a degree in Sound Technology, also attended a year at the Academy of Contemporary Music, studying Audio Production.

After that, I tried various roles such as building and working in an independent recording studio, helping out during live events with sound systems and freelancing as an editor from home.

I think it was in 2013 when I started working as a sound editor at Pinewood movie studios which focused my career in audio. I worked in the international sound department helping with theatrical releases of the biggest movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and many others.

It was a fascinating few years where I worked alongside the top audio professionals in the country and honed my skills in many areas. However, after a few years, it was time for me to move on. I always wanted to try it on my own.

When I left my role at Pinewood, I started doing small freelance gigs online – editing audiobooks and even videos for people around the world. I also learned about podcasts and started helping to produce them.

That’s how I found Casefile, and from all of these projects it was this one that really blew up, and it’s now my main work.

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

I wake up around 7–7.30 in the morning. Now it is getting colder, it is harder for me to get out of bed, though. I then have a small coffee and a protein shake and get straight to work.

I usually check emails first, working in a different time zone to Australia I am 9/10 hours behind the rest of the team, so I wake up to few emails and updates and answer them first.

Then I do what is most urgent and hardest on my task list for the day, as I am most focused in the morning. I work until around 9.30 am, that’s when I get up for quick healthy breakfast, which takes about 15 minutes.

Around noon I have a more extended break for either kickboxing class, yoga or swimming depending on a day. After that I have lunch I get back to work around 2.30 pm.

Then I work until evening, depending on how much is on my schedule but usually, it’s until 7 pm.

Then dinner, book and a movie or tv series. I always leave a few hours in the evening to recharge, read and relax. Sleep usually happens around 11 pm as I try to get the full 8 hours.

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

Yes. The majority of my work is for Casefile and all of this happens from my home studio. It’s all remote; however, I could not work from the beach as my set up is a bit more complicated than just a laptop!

But I do have a ‘travelling’ studio set up too so I can do small bits of work when I’m away. It’s all very flexible, but I tend to stick to my schedule, which to be honest is more strict than when I was working at the movie studio!

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

I am a big believer in planning and setting up goals. At my home studio, I have a big yearly planner on my wall, and I cross off each day with a marker pen – this shows me how quickly the time goes; I also note more essential events there.

On my other wall, I have a list of yearly goals that I set for myself every January, and I can look at the progress every day.

I also have a small whiteboard where I write monthly goals and of course I have a daily journal where I write tasks for each day and cross them out after completion.

I find that writing it all down and having it all around me every day helps me focus and stay on track. Crossing daily tasks helps to feel accomplished at the end of the day, so when I lock my studio, I know I’ve done a good day of work and I can relax guilt-free.

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

I like to work, and I know that this can be a problem, so scheduling time to relax helps me keep that balance.

I follow the simple rule of doing the things that I don’t want to do in the morning, then things that I need to do in the afternoon and things I want to do in the evening as my reward.

I also take health and exercise very seriously and make time for that, and I make sure that I have enough time left to spend with my partner each day too.

I tend not to think of it in terms of work-life balance though, as my life is my work and my work is my life. Everything needs to be included there, and I prefer it that way rather than having a clear separation at, let’s say 5 pm where work ends, and life starts.

It’s all continuous for me, but it is essential to take breaks and clear your mind and exercise your body every day too.

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

Waking up early and getting to sleep at the same time each night, also getting a good night’s sleep. I used to suffer from bad insomnia and stress, and I worked hard to get all of that in order.

Exercise, proper diet, meditation, breaks from the screen and time to unwind help. And of course, dropping stuff like smoking and drinking too.

I also try not to worry as much about things anymore. I always aim to do the best work, but at the same time, I try not to get too attached to anything.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

I am a big reader, and I read every day. There are too many books to recommend, although I do keep a list of what I read. I tend to read books on a variety of subjects and always choose something different.

I guess the classics, on the top of my head, would be Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, anything from Robert Greene and a good one is Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger.

It’s a difficult question because I could recommend a book depending on what you want to read.

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

Wake up early and get right into doing the hardest thing on the agenda. Once you do that, then everything else is easy.

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

I guess the most important thing for me is to keep learning, keep growing and just to be curious about life, work and everything that surrounds us.

We have one life, and it is important to live it fully and to follow your own dreams and ideas. I guess the worst thing for me would be to wake up with regrets that I lived somebody else’s life.

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