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Balancing the Grind with Chase Warrington, Head of Business Development at Doist

Chase Warrington is the Head of Business Development at Doist, where he is focused on strategic partnerships, revenue generation, and sponsorships.

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

Absolutely. I graduated from university in 2008 and began a 6 year career in marketing & business development with a company called Johnson & Johnson (not the Johnson & Johnson).

My job was to grow and develop various geographic territories in the US. While working remotely, I normally traveled around 15 days per month to visit clients, conduct training sessions, attending conventions, etc.

It was a great company and I gained really valuable experience there, especially related to how to manage my workload working remotely, while 95% of my co-workers were in an office environment.

After 6 years I was craving a change, so I took a year off to travel with my wife and help her build her e-commerce company while on the road. We visited various countries in South America, Europe and Africa, including a 40 day Euro-campervan roadtrip. It was a great year, and towards the end of our journey, I discovered Doist.

In March of 2016 I started with Doist as their International Marketing Coordinator. It was my responsibility to manage the team of international marketing representatives, as well as our freelance localization team.

We translate our apps, landing pages, emails, etc into 17 languages, they are available worldwide, and as an international company with 75 people in 30+ countries, localizing for international growth is part of our DNA.

In 2018 I transitioned into Business Development, and soon after moved from the US to Spain, where I currently live and work. My core responsibilities relate to revenue generation, project management, strategic partnerships, and sponsorships.

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

I have my alarm set for 7:15am, but generally I wake up before this, around 6:30am. My goal is to get started with work by 8:00am, and so depending on how much time I have, I plan the next hour or so accordingly.

I used to rush to get to work right away, but I’ve found that by taking the time to enjoy a few things in the morning, I start the day much more motivated.

I call these my non-negotiables, and they are: (truly) enjoy a cup of coffee, listen to or read something for pleasure (usually a podcast or book on Audible), and take my dog (Koda) out. Koda is happy and so am I, so I start work around 8:00am ready to go!

I work in time blocks from 8:00am to 12:00pm, alternating between tackling high-priority tasks, like communication around projects I’m managing, and lower priority tasks, like checking my email. I set a timer for these tasks Pomodoro style, and usually give myself 30-60 minutes for each task.

By the end of the morning I always make sure I’ve completed my top priority task for the day, as well as cleared out my email and Twist messages. Ideally I will have tackled my priority 2 task as well, but this is not always the case. Also, two days per week I rush my morning a bit more to make room for a 1-hour virtual Spanish class.

At noon, I take a break, grab a snack and get some exercise. During quarantine I’m virtually attending CrossFit classes with people from my gym from 12:30-1:30pm. Afterwards I stretch, have lunch, and shower.

Generally I am back to work by 3:00pm, give or take 30 minutes. This adds up to a three hour break in the middle of my day, and serves as an amazing way to give my mind a break, truly enjoy getting some exercise and my lunch, perhaps even have some chit chat with my wife, and then returning to work with plenty of energy for the second half of the day.

From 3:00pm – 7:00pm I open the calendar up for meetings, and usually I’ve got 1-3 hours of these with 3rd party partners, customers, and teammates.

I enjoy saving these for the afternoon because socialization comes naturally and can even energize me, so even if I’m tired at this point, it will not “cost” me much. I normally still have 3-4 smaller tasks to tackle during this time as well, so I squeeze that work in as I can.

At 7:00pm I am finished, and will then usually take my dog for a long walk and listen to something or call a friend/family member. I cherish this time to wind down and clear my head.

In “normal times” sometimes I will meet my wife or a few friends for some tapas and a beer. Around 8:00pm my wife and I start to make dinner together (we’ve fully adjusted to the Spanish times, if you can’t tell!), something we genuinely enjoy doing, and by 11:00pm I’m in bed.

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

At Doist we are fully location independent, so I have the luxury of working from where I want. I value this a lot, but perhaps even more, I value being able to work when I want. I structure my day based on how it works best for me, and this allows me to live my best life, while also giving my best work to the company.

For instance, it was always a dream of mine to have a 2 hour break in the middle of the day to take my mind off of work and get some exercise. But this was not possible with the standard 1-hour lunch break. I now take 3 hours, and I’m not sure I could go back to 1 hour!

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

I look at work as one of those things that we’re always just going to get done. Assuming you’re at least a decent employee and somewhat motivated, you’re likely to spend a significant amount of your time awake, working and producing something.

So I try to optimize my day for me and my life, because I know that otherwise, I’ll only be optimizing for work.

Finding my work-life balance means that I’m able to prioritize the things that are important to me, disconnect from my obligations, and return to work when I’m ready to give it my all. I’m fortunate to have this balance at Doist.

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?

In general, being more intentional with my productivity has been a game changer. By that I mean, taking the time to create a plan for how each day will go, and trying to stick to that plan.

For instance, time blocking has become an essential part of how I work and has led to massive productivity boosts. Instead of opening my calendar for any time of any day, I’ve set aside a few specific hours each day, that people can reserve meetings.

This means my mornings are normally very similar, and I can budget my energy accordingly. I only allow myself a certain amount of time in email everyday, and once I finish that time or hit inbox zero, I don’t go back in until the next day (generally). Blocking time for certain tasks keeps me focused and prevents me from spending too much time on relatively unimportant things.

Similarly, using priorities on my tasks, and being ruthless about the rules I set for myself, has become central to my workflow. I have one p1, one p2, and two p3’s, for each day. These are color coded in my Todoist and put at the top of the list, so it’s easy for me to see.

I end each day making sure the next day looks just like this, so that when I come to work in the morning, I know exactly what my priorities are. I ensure I knock out my p1 before diving into email or Twist, so that by the time I start down those rabbit holes, I’ve already completed my biggest challenge of the day. It relieves a lot of stress and prevents me from procrastinating.

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

I’ve become a podcast and Audible junkie, pretty much listening to something whenever I’m not working.

My favorite podcasts are probably no surprises to anyone like me who loves podcasts: The Tim Ferriss Show, The Daily, Freakonomics Radio, Waking Up, and Coffee Break Spanish (for Spanish practice).

I’m also a big American Football fan, so during the season I’ll tune into various shows to make sure I get my sports fix. Some of my favorite individual episodes of any show have come from Joe Rogan, but I’m only actually interested in about 5% of the people he interacts with, so I pick and choose those.

For books, I’m a big Yuval Noah Harari fan. I especially loved Sapiens, but all of his books are super interesting. I also really like everything Malcolm Gladwell writes, especially Outliers and The Tipping Point.

A few others that I really enjoyed recently are Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and Finding my Virginity by Richard Branson.

In general, I think reading should be something you enjoy doing – not something you feel pressured to do to learn something new. I try to use reading/listening to relax my mind and also hopefully, learn something new, passively. Listening to inspiring people motivates me and helps broaden my views on the world, so for me this is a great way to spend my free time.

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

I think this goes back to my “putting myself first” mantra. I know I’m going to work hard and try to accomplish a lot in a work day, so to feel truly fulfilled at the end of the workday, I need to know that I did something for myself too.

I know I’m going to knock out that p1 task – but did I make time to enjoy a coffee with my wife, get a good workout, or learn something new in Spanish class? I hope so – otherwise, I can’t say I maximized the day.

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

Richard Branson. I say this because I just finished one of his books, and I came away so impressed with how he balances running multiple corporations and philanthropic projects, while still managing to have so much fun in life. I would love to know more about how he does this.

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

Yes, just a couple.

1. Learning about setting non-negotiables for myself really helped me shift my mindset on work-life balance.

I would suggest going through this practice for anyone that feels they struggle with giving themselves some time each day. Ask yourself what are the few things you can do for yourself each day to get the most out of the next 24 hours.

These should be small things, like spend 15 minutes with my kids/meditating/reading, or going for a quick jog, lay in the hammock, talk to mom, or whatever brings you a little joy. Make sure they are objective (i.e. did I accomplish this or not, yes or no?) and don’t give yourself too many obligations (2-3 of these is a good goal to start with).

Once you start not accomplishing them, you’ll make a habit of it, so start small and have some success.

Once you define these, try putting them on your to-do list or ask someone to hold you accountable to them. Prioritize these over all else (including work!), and watch your happiness levels rise. You’ll create a habit of putting yourself first, and you’ll realize you still have plenty of time to get your work done.

2. Try bookending your day with something personal, to keep yourself from working too late.

I will often put something on my calendar for 7:00pm, like “walk the dog” or “study Spanish”. Something that shows up as an event that I have to “attend”. This gives me a clear stopping point, and makes me feel good about leaving work behind.

This is especially useful during quarantine, when work and home are in the same place. To incorporate some social pressure and hold you accountable, schedule a Zoom call with friends, a play date with your kids, or a “date night” with your partner.

On that note, make sure to leave work at work. At the end of the day, sign out of all work apps, turn off notifications (better yet, turn them off/down, always!), and agree not to look at work again until the next day. There will always be emails and chats to respond to, so everytime you look, you’ll see something to do.

Even if you don’t tackle it right that moment, you’ll still have it on your mind – detracting from your work-life balance. Remove the temptation to let the muscle memory take your brain back into work, and instead, spend that energy focusing on you.

3. For those of you feeling like you’re trapped at a company that won’t allow for such work-life balance – ask yourself what will truly happen if you scaled back work a bit.

I often find people have created a work monster in their heads that does not really exist. What if you weren’t on Slack all day, and signed off for 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening? Would everything come to a halt? Probably not.

What if you truly went to a standard 8-hour, or even 7-hour, workday – not doing any work outside of those hours? Would you get fired? Probably not. Would you actually get more “real” deep-work done? Research shows that you probably would.

Consider approaching work from a different perspective and trusting that you’ll get your work done in a more balanced amount of time, and allow people to adjust to your new schedule. You’ll be surprised how quickly that happens.

If all else fails, keep in mind there are plenty of fish in the sea, and more and more companies are choosing to put an emphasis on work-life balance. Happier employees lead to less burnout, higher retention rates, and increased productivity.

If your company doesn’t value that, then they are falling behind quickly. A company that aligns with your vision of work-life balance would be happy to bring you onboard; you just need to start looking and be willing to make a change – even if it comes at a financial cost initially.

Prioritize yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.

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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.