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Balancing the Grind with Catalina de León Belloc, Product Designer at Feedly

Catalina de León Belloc is a Product Designer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she is working at news aggregator application Feedly.

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

I’m a wife and a mother and a proud geek with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry, obsessed with transforming the digital world into a more beautiful and usable place.

I’m now a product designer at Feedly, and I founded Purple Bunny, a remote-first digital innovation studio based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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

We’ve been in lockdown for over 90 days, so my day-to-day has definitely changed since then. I start my workdays with a short yoga practice followed by a 15 minute meditation. This helps me stayed focused and calm.

When I’m not running workshops like a Design Sprint, I use the Pomodoro technique throughout the day to get deep focused design work done, combined with user tests, talking to other designers and product people. This technique provides me with short breaks for coffee, reading an article, a personal call or a short check-in to chat with my 2 year old.

At the end of the workday I hop on the treadmill for a 4km run, followed by family dinner and hopefully in bed by 10pm to watch an episode with my wife and then read a book.

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

I’ve worked remotely throughout my entire career in one way or another. So it was an easy transition leaving the office, given current events. But being in lockdown brings a new type of work-life balance to attend to.

There are no schools, we can’t socialize and Argentina has one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, so we can’t even go out to run. Everything happens inside our home with our family, so the boundary lines between work and personal life become more and more blurry. We are learning and adapting every day to this new life.

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

It’s about not letting one negatively affect the other. It’s getting the right amount of work done and leaving some time to take of yourself and spending time with family. Because if you don’t set enough time for that, you will not perform well at work and risk burn out. So to me it’s all about building a routine that enables that.

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

Absolutely! Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay consistent and I guess the silver lining of the lockdown is that it actually nudged me to a healthier lifestyle. I go to bed earlier and wake up at dawn for yoga and meditation, I read every day and drink more water. I also created a habit tracker in Notion that helps me be accountable and motivates me to keep going.

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

My favorite podcast is Happy Hour: Career Talk with Brittni & Penny, a down to earth podcast where these two women talk about everything related to work life. I also regularly listen to The Futur with Chris Do about business and design. There too many books to mention, but at the top of my head I’d say Sprint by Jake Knapp, Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller and The Power of Moments by the Heath brothers.

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

I recently got a robot vacuum and mop, a new best friend for sure. I couldn’t live without my computer and headphones or good set of speakers. When it comes to apps, I have a new obsession for Notion as it helps me manage my personal and work life. Other essentials would be Slack, Shazam, Apple Music, Podcasts and Netflix.

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

I guess James Clear and Timothy Ferriss, I hear great things about them and their books are next in my reading list.

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

I feel lucky because I love what I do and sometimes I feel I could do it 24/7. But as they wrote in the book Remote “While nobody on their deathbed wishes they’d spent more time at the office, many sure do wish they’d spent more time with their family”. It’s important not to forget that. We have 24 hours in a day, spend them wisely.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.