Judy Olbrych is the Head Of Content at tawk.to, a free live chat app that makes it easy to deliver personalized and real time customer service.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Growing up near historic sites, I was working in communication and education by age 15.
Whether I was talking to tour groups, playing harpsichord with a chamber group, hosting a college radio show, researching 19th-century Boston publications, or working with a team to design and test resources for English Language learners, everything has centered around those two areas in some way.
I transitioned to copywriting about 6 years ago and have worked in tech, e-commerce, and online education. Now I’m grateful to be part of an incredibly dedicated and supportive team at tawk.to working to help businesses communicate with their customers.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My work week kicks off with a 7 am Toastmasters meeting every Monday morning. By 6:30 am I’m grabbing a hot mug of tea and firing up the computer to meet everyone on Zoom for our Marvelous Monday meeting.
After Toastmasters, I get things running in the household and start my first project. I meet with Rhiannon, my personal trainer, mid-day. Then I head to the office, grab coffee, and get another block of focused work in before weekly Monday meetings with my teams.
I catch up with the family again over dinner. Then, we’re all usually working on separate projects. I usually tie up my project of the day or get a head start on Tuesday’s work.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
My position at tawk.to is completely remote, allowing me to work with team members in at least four different time zones across the globe. This gives me flexibility in the hours I keep and allows me to be available for family during the day when needed.
Working remotely doesn’t always mean working at home. I have an office close by where I can go to focus 100% without distractions, clutter, or outside demands.
To gauge my work and productivity, I track my work with an app called Toggle and review to see what’s working and not working.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me, work-life balance means having anchors and freedom. In addition to keeping a basic work-flow pattern, I have regular spots carved into my weekly and monthly schedule for faith, family, friends, and fitness. What fills each spot can look different each week.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
About a year ago, when COVID lockdowns began, I started meeting with my aunt for socially-distanced visits every Sunday afternoon. We relax with a cool beverage and talk about everything from growing up across the river from NASA to “So What” chords (think Miles Davis) to business.
I’ve also returned to regular group fitness classes and weekend hikes in our beautiful local parks.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Fictional favorites include Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio), The Island of the World, by Michael O’Brien, and some of the wackier comedies of G.K. Chesterton and James Thurber. Each of these authors has his own masterful way of sharing the brightest and darkest truths of the human experience.
Non-fiction favorites: Getting to Know the General by Graham Greene, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and Kevin Mitnick’s story, Ghost in the Wires, which I’m reading right now.
Business and copywriting books: Linchpin by Seth Godin, just about anything by Joe Sugarman, Dan Kennedy, or Eugene Schwartz, and Play Bigger by Al Ramadan et al.
For ending arguments over dinner: The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) and Fowler’s Guide to Modern English Usage.
Newsletters: MarketingProfs, Steve Slaunwhite, and Henneke (Enchanting Marketing)
On Audible: Management, Drucker.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
SaaS automations keep my life organized and free from chaos.
17hats sends out automated invoices and reminders. Slack allows me to communicate with my team at work. tawk.to monitors requests from several websites. Asana keeps my projects organized. Loom videos make it easy to show how to do things online. Evernote organizes my research. Zoom connects me with the world. And Canva simplifies everyday graphic design.
In non-SaaS categories, I rely heavily on my mechanical keyboard, hot cocoa, and a lightweight Fedora spin, which keeps a favorite old ThinkPad humming along at top speed.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
How about a Carmelite nun? The Carmelites have the perfect balance of work with the spiritual, intellectual, and social. I’m certain that much of their wisdom could be applied outside the cloister.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t think you have to follow the perfect routine as described by every self-help podcast, article, or book you’ve ever read (besides, they all disagree). Find a rhythm that works for you and allows you to spend time with the people in your life and community. If you’re alone, find a place to volunteer. Or join Toastmasters.
Do you have time for faith, family, and friends? Are you in good health? Are you learning and growing? That’s what balance is to me. And if your work is also what you love and you want to do more of it, why not?
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