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Product Designer Mariusz Cieśla shares how he manages work-life balance

Interviews 3 min read

I’m Mariusz Cieśla — Product designer & Co-founder of
Originally from Krakow, Poland, I spent a fair amount of time living briefly in different places in the world before I decided to settle in Berlin. I’m a dog person, coffee geek and terrible at maintaining balance on a skateboard.

How did you get into coding and design?

Me and a friend started a “studio” doing websites for local businesses back in high school in 2004, when this whole thing called “web design” was just getting started. That meant doing all of it, from wireframes to production code, so I’ve been a human orchestra, like all of us back then. Since I was more interested in coding after a couple of years into working, I ended up starting Applied CS at the university, switching to HCI (oldschool, university term for UX) after my third year. I’m actually still doing a fair bit of coding, but I’m nowhere near production-level backend coding anymore, since the field has evolved a lot and I decided to focus more on the design side of things.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently a co-founder and product guy at doing a bit of side projects here and there to not lose my edge. Lifetramp is a platform that lets people who want to switch their job meet people who already work in the field they’re interested in, and spend a day with them. We started Lifetramp while working on another Bitcoin-related startup with my now co-founder. At some point, he went to Tokyo to raise some money and, while there, wanted to see how it is to work at a sushi bar.
He came back with the idea of “Couchsurfing / Airbnb for jobs” and we went with it.

How does your working environment look like?

Since Lifetramp team is remote and my other projects don’t require me to sit in one place for 8 hours either, I work all over the map — from coworking spaces and friends’ offices to cafes and huts in the forest. I like background noise, which is why I feel extremely productive in cafes of all sorts.

How do you structure work-life balance?

I believe in life’s work. A lot of times work and life blend together for me into one constant stream of things going on, but I’m very wary of not pushing myself beyond what my body and mind tell me they can handle. I’ve been through a minor burnout in the early stages of Lifetramp and I wouldn’t ever want to go back to this, so I take my time off very seriously.

I stopped working on a strict schedule a while ago. Instead, I tend to follow my natural rhythm: when I feel like working, I work. When I feel like going for a walk and grabbing a coffee, I go for a walk and grab a coffee. I noticed my energy peaks early in the morning and late in the afternoon, so I usually spend early afternoons doing things that require minimum effort or not working at all.

What are some challenges you faced as a team leader?

Overlap. Since our team is remote (luckily most of the time in similar time zones), scheduling and planning work is hard and you need enough time to overlap with others, which we learned the hard way.

How does your workflow look like and how is Noisli integrated into it?

I work with the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break, with a longer break every three Pomodoros. I usually have my headphones on when working with some music playing, too. When I’m in a very quiet environment (home, office), I tend to use Noisli as a tool to generate the “white noise” I use to stay focused when working in cafes. I also tend to turn on Noisli when I meditate, to generate some constant background noise that helps me let go of thoughts.

What do you do to wind down if you’re stressed or just need some new inspiration?

I meditate and I walk a lot. Luckily our apartment is close to a couple of really nice parks in which I can just sit down and meditate on the grass when it’s warm or just wander around when it’s cold.

Listen to Mariusz’s favorite Combo.

–Your Noisli Team

Written by Sabine

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