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Balancing the Grind with Jocelyn Brewer, Founder & CEO of Digital Nutrition

Jocelyn Brewer is a psychologist, teacher and cyberpsychology researcher. She is the founder & CEO of Digital Nutrition, a positive and proactive framework for considering digital wellbeing.

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

I’ve had quite a varied career! I’m a registered psychologist, accredited teacher and cyberpsychology researcher.

I am really interested in the intersection of psychology and technology and I’ve been looking into the impacts (both positive and negative) of digital devices on society, behaviour and learning for about a decade.

I did an Arts degree straight out of school and majored in Human Geography and Performance Studies. I ended up doing a Diploma in Education and taught high school for about 5 years. I then retrained to be a school counsellor about 12 years ago.

I’ve worked in the education system for about 16 years and along the way, have done a range of different projects (from independent theatre production to social media strategy) and roles to keep things interesting!

In 2013 I created Digital Nutrition as a framework for having a healthy relationship with technology and what it means to stay human (kind, connected, empathetic and conscious) in a digital world.

I split my time between presenting and consulting on this and my private psychology practice where I see high schoolers to baby boomers. I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter and live with my partner in the suburbs of south-western Sydney. We have a lovely big backyard and 3 chooks which were great for our sanity during lockdown!

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

I see psychology clients on Monday afternoons, Wednesdays from 11am and all-day Saturdays. I have Thursdays with my kid and Sundays are family days. Tuesdays and Fridays I work on my other Digital Nutrition projects and hit the gym after daycare drop off 3 days a week (ideally!).

Pre-COVID I was flying around Australia presenting every other week, so there was more fluidity in the weeks. Now I’m grounded in NSW, I’m enjoying not flittering time away in airports and transiting places and being able to have more time at home and locally.

Tomorrow I will begin a gym class in the morning, a podcast interview for a brand I am representing, then will jump into a coaching session with my business coach Kate McCready from Leading Beings. I then have a briefing call for a TV panel I am on next Monday, then will do some admin and fiddly stuff for the afternoon before picking up my kid and having a family pizza dinner.

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

Yep, I have designed my life so that I can work from anywhere with a stable internet connection. I’m really into the notion of being in the groove, not in the grind, so when I have been working on my life design (especially now there is a kid in the mix) it’s been about finding the groove of our weekly rhythm and the flow of life!

Obviously, I see psychology clients mostly face to face, but with Covid I have moved to a combo of face-to-face with social distancing and virtual sessions. My work has reconfigured itself since March – I am doing more client work and less presenting (and really haven’t chased webinar work as I feel people are too screened out!).

In August, a room in a lovely building I had my eye on for several years came up and I took the leap and signed a lease on my own office. I now share Room To Talk with a clinical psychologist and have created a space I am really comfy in (and my clients are too!).

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

To be honest, I don’t believe in work-life balance. The notion of balance seems very restrictive, I like to think about it in terms of ‘blend’ and how I combine the various domains of my life to ensure my needs are met.

The nature of my work means that I have to be responsive to deadlines and sometimes the balance goes wonky. I wrote about it here.

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

My exercise routine went out the window with Covid and I’m obviously not alone there. I got into home/backyard workouts for a while but then I got busy and am now resetting my exercise habits and making getting to the gym for various classes non-negotiable.

I really keep meaning to get back to writing Morning Pages (a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). Manyana!

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

I love Nir Eyal’s weekly best reads and his second book Indistractable was a game changer for me in 2109. I also love Jocelyn K Glei’s Hurry Slowly podcast and her fortnightly newsletter. Her RESET course was something that really helped me reshape my habits and align to my values in early 2019.

I tend to listen to Download This Show on ABC Radio National each Saturday when I drive home from work. I love the DiveThru journaling app, though I prefer to journal by hand usually.

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

I don’t know that I couldn’t ‘live without’ them. I love to track my sleep with an Oura ring and a Fitbit. I run two businesses so my phone and laptop are my EA – I mostly only send texts using iMessage when typing on my laptop, I do as little as possible on my phone except talking!

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

Not Tim Ferris! I would love to talk to Jenny Odell, author of How To Do Nothing.

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

I like to think about time not in terms of balance but rhythms, routines and rituals that support our energy flow and meeting the demands of work and wellbeing.

So defining what combination of elements you need across the week to get into your rhythm, how you create a daily routine that sets you up to maximise your cognitive energy and chronobiology throughout the day, then the rituals that support you within that!

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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.