Lois Maskiell is a journalist at SmartCompany, an Australian entrepreneur publication focused on publishing breaking news, analysis and business advice.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I became interested in journalism during my undergraduate degree in foreign languages. While studying French and Spanish and Latin American Studies, I consumed a lot of foreign language media to help boost my language skills.
It did help with my French and Spanish but coincidentally kick-started an interest in the news. In 2019, I began a Master of Journalism, studying print and multimedia news, as well as completing a thesis on comparative media freedom.
I also wrote for the student publication, interned at a radio station and even managed to find an internship in Jakarta, working as a Producer for Indonesia’s 24-hour news channel Metro TV. In the weeks leading up to my master’s thesis submission, I landed my current job as a journalist at the small business and startup publication SmartCompany.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A standard working day orbits around my deadlines. At the moment, I get up, read the news and check my emails. I jot down a list of potential story ideas before attending a daily editorial meeting.
After I’m assigned stories for the day, I source interviews for the articles I need to file in time for a daily newsletter that’s emailed to subscribers at lunch time. It’s a fast paced process that leaves no time for procrastinating!
One thing about my job is that the work doesn’t come to you. Journalists have to hustle for information, which essentially means making a lot of calls and sending a lot of emails to people who don’t know you.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I started my current role remotely, and I’ve continued to work from home at least 80% of the time since coronavirus restrictions eased in Melbourne. The company I work for is very flexible about work arrangements.
I usually work two days per week in our coworking space. It’s important for me to get a sense of a company’s culture and spend time with colleagues. But having said that, I appreciate the extra time won from not commuting, which brings us to our next question.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me, work-life balance means valuing my health and having a life outside of work. In my industry, there’s a need to be across the news.
So, I spend a lot of time consuming content on different platforms. Knowing when to switch off is definitely a skill, and I even go so far as to disconnect my phone from the internet at night.
Ultimately, if I’m not seeing friends and family, as well as exercising weekly, I know my work-life balance is skewed. So, planning my weekends helps me achieve a degree of balance.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Last year, I spent four months living under Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown and the better part of the year dealing with restrictions. This catalysed some significant changes to my lifestyle.
Prior to the pandemic, I would socialise mid-week as well as weekends, and I would regularly visit family interstate. The pandemic forced me to slow my routine down. I now spend more time at home, reading and cooking.
I probably exercise a bit more, and I run with a group of friends each weekend. I don’t think I’m the only person in Melbourne who’s spending more time in parks, because they seem to be much busier than I recall!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’ll try to keep this short because I could write an encyclopedia. I’m a big fan of the business podcast ZigZag by Manouche Zomorodi and Monacle’s The Globalist, which covers international news.
As for newsletters, SmartCompany’s daily newsletter is the best – and no I’m not biased! It’s a great update about what’s happening in the small business and startup worlds.
The best books I’ve read over the last year or so are Tim Marshall’s The Power of Geography and Salman Rushdie’s Languages of Truth. They’re very different, as the former is about international relations while the latter is about storytelling and fiction.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
The Internet, if that counts. I’m a big fan of Strava and Twitter and bluetooth devices like AirPods.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Kaylene Langford. Kaylene’s the founder of StartUp Creative and she just published her book How to Start a Side Hustle.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Remember that work-life balance is a point on a sliding scale that’s unique to each person. I have friends who need a lot of downtime to feel optimal and others who thrive on extreme workloads.
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