From Unhappy Employee to Digital Well-being Entrepreneur

Sinead Mac Manus, Founder of the digital wellbeing company 8fold shares her career journey with us,  highlighting that having the courage to embrace change is vital when it comes to truly styling a career and business you LOVE on your terms. Personally I think digital wellbeing is a really important topic that we all need to tune in to. It's so easy to loose ourselves in digital land that sucks away our time + energy (I myself have been prone to get far too carried away in TwitterSphere!) Sinead has some really powerful ideas and strategies that can helps us maximise on the power of online whilst maintaining inner-balance and well being.....now let's get this career ball rolling....  :)

Tell me a bit more about what you do?

I am the founder of 8fold, a digital wellbeing company that helps busy people work better. My mission is to change the way people work, whether that’s by helping them regain balance in their digital life, showing them how they can naturally be more productive or by inspiring them to create businesses that allow them to live flexible  lives whilst still making impact. I do this by offering coaching, online and offline training, and by writing and sharing my ideas.

What was your career path before setting up 8fold?

I hesitate to call it a ‘career path’! My journey to where I am today is a long and convoluted one but I think one that demonstrates that no path is ever permanent and that change in your career and life is positive. After graduating with a Masters in Urban Planning, I spent three long and very unhappy years working in private practice in Dublin. After a year and a half round the world trip to ‘find myself’, I found myself moving to London and fell into urban planning again, this time at a local council. This experience spurred me on to retrain as an arts manager and after working for a variety of theatre and dance organisations, I went part-time freelance in 2006 and full-time in 2008.

How did you make the transition from 'employed' to 'self-employed'?

The risk free way. While I was full-time employed, I started to take on projects and work on them in the evenings and on weekends. When people tell me they have no time to start a business, I challenge this view. If you truly want to make change in your life, you will find the time. For the next two years I built up a client portfolio and my reputation while still working part-time for other organisations. This meant when I was ready to make the leap fully in self-employment, I knew I would have enough work to sustain me.

What was the inspiration behind 8fold?

In 2007, I picked up the infamous book by Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek and it completely changed my outlook on why I was working the way I was working and how I was working. This led me on a journey which I am still on today which is experiments into what I call Working Better: lifestyle design, productivity and digital wellbeing. Much of my work is influenced by yoga and Buddhist traditions and philosophies and the name 8fold comes from the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path which describes ‘the middle way’ – perfect for a company all about balance!

What does a typical day look like for you?

Being a productivity geek, my days are quite structured. I start the day with a quiet breakfast before planning out my day on one small sheet of paper. I choose one to three big projects to focus on and put them in order of priority and get going. I am very strict about checking email and social media so these activities are planned into my day as rituals. My energy and attention is lower in the afternoon so I try to keep client meetings after lunch. Like most business owners I could work into the evening but try to bracket my day with a yoga class, dinner with my hubby or a networking event so I am forced to shut the computer down.

What's the best thing about being a business owner?

The ability to work how and when you like. I live a part-time location independent lifestyle which means I am based in the UK but take extended trips to live and work abroad. The freedom to be able to pick up my computer and go work somewhere else is priceless.

 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt on the journey of shaping a career you love?

Don’t worry about making a mistake and going down the wrong path. Change is inevitable and you will probably not be doing the same job you are doing now in 10 years time. I am already on to my third ‘career’ but now I don’t even think about my work in terms of career anymore. I just work on things that excite me.

Just for fun..

Favourite meal?

That’s easy. My lasagne – been perfecting it for about 20 years and my gosh, it’s good!

Most inspirational role model?

Can I be annoying and have more than one? These five names travel with me everywhere and remind me how to live my life: Chris Guillebeau, Leo Babauta, Jim Collins, Maggie Doyne and Gandhi.

What three words capture your approach to life?

Unconventional, meaningful and fun.

Sinead Mac Manus is founder of 8fold , a digital wellbeing company that helps busy people work better. An experienced trainer and speaker she is the author of From Apps to Zen: 26+ Ideas for Building a Business with Balance and the forthcoming book The Business Yogi: How the Science of Yoga Can Help You Be More Productive, Happy and Healthy at Work. A social entrepreneur, she also runs the Digital Assistant Academy and is a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and an UnLtd Award Winner. You can connect with Sinead on Twitter and LinkedIn