Based in Brisbane, Australia, ANNABELLE CHAPPLE is a new mother, and writes a monthly column all about it.

11 Work & Life Hacks with Linh Diep

11 Work & Life Hacks with Linh Diep

The great thing about having access to a thriving co-working community is the chance to meet interesting people from various backgrounds.

I was introduced to Linh Diep earlier this month and after a half hour chat I was blown away by her resilience, her dogged determination and the solid framework she's set up to stay sane and stay on track to achieve her goals. It's inspired me to set up a similar framework of my own.

So here's a little background on Linh and importantly her life hacks (meditation has increased her creativity) and secret tips to getting ahead at work (it's all about LinkedIn!).

Ask a 10 year old Linh Diep what she'd be doing as an adult and she probably would have said, 'Swimming for Australia at the Olympics.' For five years the Gold Coast teen gritted her teeth, withstanding cold, early morning starts to train as a competitive swimmer.

"I got to state national level. To get there you have to train 20+ hours a week: early mornings, after school and weekends."

At 15 her goals changed but her character had already been defined.

"I think that’s where I learnt my discipline and I think that’s where I learnt to make blocks of time to do things."

Linh went to school at the Queensland Academy for Health Sciences on the Gold Coast, determined to make a career as a doctor. When she graduated high school she went straight into second year Biomedical Science at Griffith University after already gaining credits towards her first year, but she struggled. And after sticking it out for 12 months, waiting to fall in love with the profession, Linh threw in the towel - without telling her parents - and had a quarter life crisis at just 18 years of age.

"I was really low, like, "Oh my god what am I going to do with my life?" It was very, very heavy."

After applying to a few universities Linh was accepted to University of Queensland's Business Management and Journalism course. She quickly fell in love with the business world but not the journalism side so she again pivoted, dropping that side of the degree to pursue commerce instead. Then came her first networking event.

"I went there and I had a glass of champagne for liquid courage and then I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t talk to a single person in that room. I think I spent a total of 20 minutes there then I walked out. I was really nervous, I was 21."

She went to her second networking event with the goal of talking to at least one person and found it so uplifting she started attending more. It was at one of these events Linh had the idea to start a new student society at the uni focusing on Marketing and Advertising, two of the biggest majors that had until then been neglected. The group launched in February this year with zero members, it's now 380 strong.

Linh is now in the final year of her degree and has gained a spot in PwC's Graduate Program. Down the track (15+ years) she wants to run her own business in consulting and advisory and to get there she'll amp up that determination but also keep refining her list of life hacks/advice she shared with me:

Linh's Work & Life Hacks:

  1. Two things: What I prioritise is creativity and fitness so I treat those two things as muscles. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you haven’t done the training beforehand. Same thing for creativity, you can’t expect to come up with great ideas if you don’t practice it on a daily basis.
  2. Habit stack: It helps me stay consistent with my goals (see hacks 3-6).
  3. Meditate: I pair meditation with waking up, so I do it first thing in the morning at 5am. I use the app, Headspace. I still find it difficult to switch off now and then but have found visualisation techniques help, so I use waves to focus on when I breathe in and out. I didn’t believe in meditation at first but I persisted with it for two weeks and then I started noticing that I was coming up with better ideas, people were starting to comment, “Oh that was really productive. I didn’t think that you’d do that.” Or, “[Whatever you brought to the table] was really creative today.”
  4. Journal: I pair 20 minutes of journaling with being on the train.
  5. Read: I try to read books, one every week or fortnight and I habit stack that with eating lunc.
  6. Create: I also have my own creative project which at the moment is lettering, typography kind of stuf. It's just a creative outlet.
  7. Routine: I didn’t set out to do all these things, it’s just doing one thing then adding another. So the changes you make, make them one at a time to see if it yields results.
  8. LinkedIn (for getting ahead in your career): A lot of people will reply to you on LinkedIn if you reach out and just say, "Hi, I'm really inspired by what you do. Would you mind having coffee with me?" I’ve probably had coffee with a person every single day this week. It humbles me every time they say yes.
  9. Email: I have a no email policy on weekends. I still read the emails, I just don't reply to them. I really value my weekends.
  10. Advice to others going through career or life limbo: Yes it's scary to be in that space but just do it, just do something. It probably sounds Richard Branson-y but don't sit around, be proactive, no one is going to change your situation but you.
  11. People who inspire me: Daniel Flynn & Holly Tattersall.
Jim Lahey's Bread

Jim Lahey's Bread

Tip #9

Tip #9