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The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 42: Hack your life better

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

Co-Founder Life Admin Life Hacks

September 13, 2022
It's not you. Life is truly more complicated these days. Dinah Rowe-Robert is the co-host of the Life Admin Life Hacks Podcast and is now also co-author of the Life Admin Life Hacks Book with her friend and business partner, Mia Northrop.Dinah and Mia started a thriving business by simply trading life admin hack tips on a podcast, to which they fondly refer to as the business of life.


Life Admin Hacks


Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Dinah Rowe-Roberts

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Episode 42 Transcript

00:00:00:03 - 00:02:00:20

Carrie Kwan
Hello to the Mumbitious! This podcast is for women, unapologetically blending motherhood and ambition. I'm Carrie Kwan, the co-founder of Mums & Co. We are the movement upskilling and connecting business owning mothers because you can harmonise your ambition, livelihoods and well-being. Joining me each week will be our community manager, Lucy Kippist, with special guests. We'll delve into how you can create a world where women don't have to choose between growing a business while raising a family. Let's get into the practical tips and inspirational stories now.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of New South Wales where we record this podcast, and all Aboriginal elders past, present and emerging. We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters of New South Wales and their continuing cultural, spiritual, customs and practices.

It's not new. Life is truly more complicated these days. If those words brought you a sigh of relief, then you're going to love meeting today's guest, Dinah Rowe-Roberts. She is the co-host of the Life Admin Life Hacks Podcast and now also coauthor of the Life Admin Life Hacks Book with her business partner, Mia Northrop.

Dinah and her friend Mia are friends who started a thriving business by simply trading life admin hack tips on a podcast, what they fondly refer to as the business of life. We are thrilled to welcome Dinah to Mumbition the podcast. So Dinah, we educate women on pitching with confidence. We'd love to hear your story, your business journey. Can you give us your best elevator pitch?

00:02:01:03 - 00:03:04:05

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

Well, Life Admin Life Hacks provides techniques, tips and tools to tackle your life admin more efficiently to save you time, money, and improve your household harmony. So back in 2018, my old friend Mia and I, we were having a girls weekend away with some other old high school friends, and after a few drinks, you know how it goes.

We landed on the topic of life admin and universally was out of control. But for Mia and I, we dug deeper. We’re both super organised; we were excelling in our professional lives, but we found ourselves drowning in the mental load, while our partner seemed completely oblivious. So we decided then and there to put our professional expertise to work to solve the problem.

I have an accounting and operations background and Mia’s in digital and user experience, so we developed a life admin framework. So you know where you should focus based on what is important to you. We've identified the key tools and processes you need to transform your life admin into managed order and share the mental load.

00:03:04:17 - 00:03:28:11

Carrie Kwan

I don't know one person who would not want this in their life and it is a huge mental load that we have on ourselves at the moment, so thank you for what you're doing. You mentioned that you and your friend and business partner, Mia, have started Life Admin Hacks initially, that podcast, that turned into a book, that has turned into a consultancy. What quality do you attribute your success to?

00:03:28:11 - 00:04:07:01

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

So I think there’s two things. The first one is the problem, it's actually a real problem, and it's a problem for lots of people. So I think the first one is when trying to come up with a business idea, make sure you're actually solving a problem or a pain point in people's lives. Then the second one is, we actually came up with practical solutions. There’s so many people who write and talk about the mental load, but no one really talks about solutions.

When we started researching the problem, that's what we found. There are loads of books that talk about the mental load, but no one really offers those practical solutions that you can implement to actually improve things for the better.

00:04:07:01 - 00:04:21:18

Carrie Kwan

I can definitely relate there too. I feel like talking about it might make us feel good for a little while, but then we want practical solutions, when actually you have actionable tips that we can do something to remove that mental load. So I'm really excited to get your tips today!

00:04:22:06 - 00:04:39:00

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

I think one of the other things is we actually tried and tested it ourselves, so we didn't just write about it. We tested and learned our different processes and systems and we applied it differently in each of our own lives. So we've got different ways of applying the same principles based on real life examples.

00:04:39:09 - 00:04:57:09

Carrie Kwan

Dinah, I'd love to know a little bit more about your business partnership with Mia. You both have corporate jobs and children, in addition to hosting your podcast and growing your Life Admin Life Hacks brand. What do you think has been the secret to making this work with two people, or is there a secret?

00:04:57:21 - 00:06:11:19

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

I think there's a few different things that are really important when you're in a partnership with someone else. The most important one is definitely communication and being sort of open and honest with one another about how much time we've got to commit and those sorts of things.

But then I think the other thing is really making the most of our time together. We do have very busy lives and we're not often in the same room at the same time. We do most of our work asynchronously, so we have really good digital tools so we know what each other is working on and we can communicate in that way without needing to always talk at the same time.

We leverage each other's respective skills, so I take care of all of the finance side of the business because that's my sort of zone of genius, and Mia takes care of all the technical side because that's her background.

I think finally, one of the things that we've really always tried to do is celebrate our success. Whenever we have a win, we really try and make the most of that, whether it be a nice dinner out together or just high fiving each other and really celebrating our success because that gives you the momentum to keep going and be excited, and it makes it fun to be involved in business together.

00:06:12:06 - 00:06:38:18

Carrie Kwan

That is almost a resilience building strategy as well. Pausing, take a moment to acknowledge that you've actually achieved something before going on to the next thing; beautiful reminder. How would you describe your relationship to risk as a business partnership? What are some of the processes that you've put in place to protect yourself as an individual within the business partnership, as well as the business itself?

00:06:39:06 - 00:07:57:17

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

I think one of the things we did very early on was we actually incorporated ourselves. We established a company structure even when we were quite small and we didn't really know if we were going to be able to make a go of it. But what that really did was put some structure around the business. It obviously has some legal benefits as well, and we put in place a shareholder agreement. It’s really simple, but it's got some structures in place, including some quarterly meeting process.

Once a quarter we get together to talk about what we've worked on, what's worked well, what our plans are for the future, and those sorts of things are really important. What we're both really passionate about is that time has a value and so we really value each other's respective times. When we're thinking about the risk, it's really about protecting our time as well, which is so important, so we've made the decision at the moment to still keep our paid work.

What that means is we're protecting ourselves in terms of our own income. We're not putting all our eggs into the basket. What we are willing to do is pay to outsource some of the things that we don't have time to do, so that our business can continue to have momentum. I think all of those things play into risk from my perspective.

00:07:58:09 - 00:09:12:08

Carrie Kwan

I love how you could have clearly defined the roles and the cadence upfront, because then there's less room for, “I thought that was what you would pick up,” or not the clarity, or that duplication of work that actually sometimes happens when you're not really clear on that sort of upfront structure.

I think it's very much in terms of when we look at risk, it's actually things that we already know to be true, because I think as a parent, we've always got this risk right anyway. We know a lot of those skills are transferable in terms of providing that structure at home, providing those boundaries and those parameters, and then and then sort of applying it to your business as well.

Lucy Kippist
? -  00:09:27:17

Just further on that Carrie, Dinah, I really liked the point you made about respecting each other's time. That's also a value that we hold very dearly here at Mums & Co. You’re right, it is a commodity and also sort of lends itself to the next question really nicely too, because when I think about reducing life admin, I consider that to be part of my approach to wellbeing.I'm always trying to reduce that part in order to feel better and to feel more grounded, more on top of my life.

I'm just wondering what you do for yourself daily, that helps support your own sense of wellness, on top of obviously having a very keen eye for reducing your own life admin?

00:09:27:18 - 00:11:00:03

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

I think I am going to answer with a life admin response because one of the things that has made the biggest difference to me that I've implemented from our own life admin work, is having a really strong schedule. What I mean is I schedule all sorts of things in my calendar that perhaps other people don't do, including things like time for grocery shopping and meal planning and all of the life admin tasks that I know that need to happen every week.

But I also schedule the things that are important to me. That includes things like last night, going to the movies with my friends for our once a month movie night, scheduling in time every weekend to make sure I get out in nature. Those things really have been transformative in terms of my wellbeing and really valuing my own time.

My schedule used to be so packed, but it wasn't actually written down. It was when I went and created a family calendar and I put in everything that goes on in our family life in there, and I realised it was too much. That gave me the opportunity to kind of strip back and make sure that I’m scheduling in the things that are important to me, rather than just what everyone else is asking of me.

Really getting tight on your schedule can be a huge wellbeing boost, as much as some people balk at the idea of scheduling all those things in. Once you schedule them in, you know that the free space is truly free for you to do what you want rather than just masking all the busy work that happens in that time.

00:11:00:20 - 00:11:18:03

Lucy Kippist

It's a brilliant tip and I can imagine also seeing that visually, I'm just imagining my own Google Calendar. Now, with all of that in there would just be such a wake up call for yourself as well in terms of red alert, where am I in all of this? Where's my wellness in all of this?

00:11:18:15 - 00:12:16:08

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

I think particularly if you schedule in all of the things that need to happen when you've got kids and you’re scheduling all of the things that need to happen to them, it also gives visibility to the schedule. It was one thing that my husband had no idea about before I implemented this, in terms of all of the logistics that used to go on in the house that he was completely oblivious to.

Bringing visibility to our family schedule has been the most important thing in shifting the mental load in our household. My husband now has complete visibility and it means that if say, I do want to go away for the weekend, I used to leave complicated instructions to my husband about all the things that needed to happen.

Now I just leave. It’s in the schedule, he's a grown adult, he's very capable of following a schedule and he adds to the schedule. Now even my daughter, who's a teenager, also adds to the schedule. Everyone knows what's going to go on in our household without us having to try and make it up.

00:12:17:01 - 00:12:44:16

Carrie Kwan

I hear from a lot of our busy mothers and fathers about scheduling; if it's not in the schedule, it doesn't happen. I just want to dive a little bit deeper in terms of the practical tips around that scheduling. What are you using, and how are you getting every bit of juice of efficiency of running your family's calendar?

00:12:44:16 - 00:14:46:20

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

We have a shared family calendar, and it’s also linked to a shared email account, which we use for all of our life admin communication; that's another great tip. That shared family calendar, we just use Google Calendar. I look at that calendar on my phone with an Outlook app rather than the Google Calendar app, because I can then also see my paid work calendar in the same view. That makes it easy for me to see multiple calendars in the same spot. Or as my daughter, for example, just uses the Google Calendar on her browser of her school computer to be able to see the Google Calendar.

I think it's about setting up an account that works for you. For us, that's integrated with our email and our cloud storage, but also thinking about really using apps that make it easy to be able to see multiple calendars in a single view, so that you can see where things are conflicting.

The other tip I would have is making sure that everyone is aware who's using that calendar, what needs to go in it, it's a bit of a change management exercise. Think about your partner, explaining to them why it's so important to you that you have this shared calendar. Explain to them the things that they need to put into it and how often they need to look at it. That's what I've also been doing with my daughter. She's old enough and she has a part time job and she needs to be picked up and dropped off. She knows that if she doesn't put it in the calendar, then there's no one picking her up. It just makes everything much easier.

I think you need to spend some time educating everyone on the rules of engagement. Then just politely remind them when they ask you the question. When we first implemented it, my husband would still say to me on Friday night, “What are we doing this weekend?” And I would just say, “I'm not quite sure, maybe just have a look in the calendar.”

That really just helps with that change management, in terms of making sure that they start to use it, rather than becoming that kind of tension point that it can become.

00:14:46:20 - 00:15:08:10

Carrie Kwan

Love it! I'm going to have a conversation with my husband and my two little boys about the communal calendar. Let’s jump over to networking, which is an integral part of our offering at Mums & Co. What do you seek networking for, and what's the most effective way for you to meet that need digitally?

00:15:09:00 - 00:16:01:04

Dinah Rowe Roberts

I think so far in our business journey, networking for us has been mostly about learning. It's been about leveraging experts to help us define our life admin system, and to continue to refine that and to be able to share their expertise with our audience. I think the things that have been most useful for us have been networking groups like Mums & Co and One Roof.

So Mia is a very active member of One Roof, but I also really use my LinkedIn network. I've worked for more years than I’d care to claim, I've got lots of different former colleagues who've got lots of different, interesting expertise. I really leverage my LinkedIn network extensively to find people in specific areas and to ask them for help.

00:16:01:14 - 00:17:06:08

Carrie Kwan

Terrific tips, especially now. I think before COVID, half of our community of business owning mums, about 345,000 in Australia, were working from home. Now I think that, along with the rest of the world, has increased significantly. We're really finding ways to connect in this sort of forum and any opportunity that we can.

There's so much data, even in your LinkedIn profile, that you can actually establish that conversation on a much deeper level before you even have this conversation.

[unknown time frame]

Lucy Kippist

Dinah, speaking of your business trajectory, of all the stories I've heard, yours is one of the most brilliant in terms of the fact that you created this podcast and then a book publisher approached you.

I don't know anyone with a podcast who wouldn't want that to happen to them! But I'm wondering, given that experience, what is one of the most important pieces of advice you might have for a woman out there who's thinking of starting her own podcast as the beginning of her own business or building a community?

00:17:06:23 - 00:17:55:23

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

Time is money. Unless you already know a lot about podcasting or it’s something you're really fascinated by, I think know your area of competency, which is likely to be the content of your podcast, and think about outsourcing the rest. We found someone very early on Airtasker to help us with producing our podcasts.

We didn't have to spend a lot of money. I also think done is better than perfect. Get it out there and let people listen and see whether you get some feedback. Focus on the content and let someone else focus on the technical side of the podcast, get some help and then you're much more likely to get it out there and get it out there more often than if you try and do absolutely everything yourself now.

00:17:56:05 - 00:18:05:13

Carrie Kwan

At Mums & Co, we talk about harmony as a triangle of ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. We'd love to hear how you describe the shape of a good life for you.

00:18:06:05 - 00:18:49:24

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

It definitely is trying to live life in line with my values and making sure I'm scheduling that time in for the things that are truly important to me. That's being there for my children, supporting them in their endeavors, having social connections. I really value time with my friends and having deep and meaningful connections with my friendship group.

I also love getting out into nature. If I can make time for all those things that are important to me, as well as my career and my business, then that is a great life for me. I definitely feel like I have quit the busy and I'm much more now about scheduling in time and saying no to lots of things that aren’t important to me and focusing on what is important to me.

00:18:50:22 - 00:19:21:16

Lucy Kippist

Thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition the podcast today. If you'd like to hear more about Dinah, Mia and the Life Admin, Life Hacks Podcast and book, you can find all of that on Instagram, LinkedIn and of course via their podcast, Life Admin, Life Hacks, on your preferred platform. If you haven't already, please come and join thousands of business owning women just like you, at mumsandco.com.au

00:19:21:16 - 00:19:24:07

Child speaker

What is your least favorite part of admin?

00:19:25:02 - 00:20:06:13

Dinah Rowe-Roberts

I think it's a very common least favorite part of life admin, but for me it's anything to do with dealing with our complicated health system, trying to find an appropriate health professional, trying to get an appointment, actually having an appointment that starts on time. I've got a few health issues among my children. So it has been a bit of a journey for both of them to try and find the right health professional and then to try and keep appointments. It's definitely an area where I'd love to see some change in terms of customer centricity in the Australian context.

00:20:06:13 - 00:20:46:23

Carrie Kwan

We hope you've enjoyed this episode of Mumbition, the podcast by Mums & Co. Head over to the show notes now for anything you might have missed. Mums & Co is Australia's most caring business network for women. To find out more about our Mums & Co membership, visit mumsandco.com.au. This podcast was produced by Lucy Kippist and edited by the wonderful Morgan Sebastian Brown of Brown Tree Productions and co-hosted by Carrie Kwan, co-founder of Mums & Co and Lucy Kippist, our community manager.

We'd love your feedback so please rate, review and share Mumbition, so that we can reach more business owning mothers and their Co just like you.