We had the good fortune of connecting with Melody Dao and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Melody, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
There is an expectation– perhaps from family, media, or society in general– that an unbalanced life leads to a successful life. At school, high achieving students compare how little sleep they get, feeling “proud” for sleeping the least amount of hours compared to their peers. I’ve personally fallen victim to that as well, “bragging” about how packed my schedule is, working from 8 AM to midnight. Come on, a 16 hour day for a teenager? That is unhealthy. In this competitive world, I felt pressured to push myself to the extremes.

Working too much leads to toxic productivity– the idea that continuously working and “staying on the grind” will lead to massive success. I think as humans, we naturally crave validation from others. The sensation of instant gratification upon seeing the results of my work acts as an incentive, motivating me to work harder just to experience the joy of accomplishment. From personal experiences, working excessively just leads to burn out, which deteriorates the quality of work I put out and even damages my health, both physically and mentally.

During the pandemic, I realized that work is not all there is in life; rather, it’s also about the relationships I build, the memories I make, and the impact I leave on others. Understanding how to balance work and my personal life creates that equilibrium of both peace and productivity.

My process of understanding balance begins at self awareness. Recognizing I am over-working and stressing out way too much from work is one of the most important steps. I look for different signs my body and my mind tell me to take a break: lack of motivation, droopy eyes, lack of focus, complaining to myself about how much work sucks, etc. When this happens, I make sure to separate myself from work; I will work out, call my friends, take a nap, or watch a TV show with my mom. It was really difficult for me to take a break. I often feel guilty for relaxing, desiring more work to keep myself productive. Eventually I realized that taking a break can not only improve my mental health (clearing up time to focus on myself and relationships with others), but in some ways, also improve the quality of my work coming back from a break. I became more creative and ambitious, resparking the initial passion for working.

What if I don’t have time to take a long break?

There is a more complex work-life balance system I implement into my life when I am time managing. That is– drumroll please– understanding the harmony between my professional life and personal life. Creating my podcast is the perfect example. Managing my podcast brand is part of the work I do daily, yet it is interconnected with other aspects of my life as well. I am able to meet new people, learn new stories, and think creatively. I try my best to commit to work that I am passionate about. By blurring the line between work and life, it allows for that equilibrium to exist, so that no matter what I am doing, I feel less drained and more excited to work. In the long run, finding this harmony greatly improves my mental health. Instead of dreading work, I am excited to finish different tasks and achieve my goals. This motivation alone allows me to feel happier while working, making work feel less like a duty but more of a passion project.

Work-life balance is a skill that takes time to master. It is through trial and error to fully nail down what system works best for you!

What should our readers know about your business?
Study Break is a teen podcast where I interview a different teen guest every week. We chat about a variety of topics relating to school, mental health, and activism. My goal creating this podcast is for the teens listening to feel less alone through their struggles. I am most proud of the impact my podcast left on others. The messages that listeners send me, saying things like “the latest episode really changed my perspective on toxic productivity” and “thank you for helping me feel more confident”, make me feel good about the positive influence I am leaving on others.

Business wise, creating this podcast was not easy, but definitely rewarding. I learned so many skills with zero prior knowledge, such as editing audio, social media marketing, and podcast production. These skills take time to understand and learn. I had to watch so many YouTube tutorials to grasp the basics. Staying patient and dedicated allowed me to push through various challenges with creative blocks, as well as time management between school and podcasting.

I want the world to know that this podcast is amplifying teen voices. Adults who listen can gain a better understanding of the challenges teens are facing in the present day. For teens, I truly hope Study Break can inspire them to view the world from different perspectives, stay open minded, and be kind to themselves and others.

Ultimately, I am so grateful to have this platform that spreads positivity and sheds light on important topics relevant to teens.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The best time ever would obviously consist of great food. First stop, I will take them to grab some boba– probably at Sunright or Tiger Sugar. For the main course, we can get some juicy tacos from Tacos Mexico in Hacienda Heights. Dun Huang in Rowland Heights is one of my all time favorite noodle restaurants that sells flavorful Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles. After fueling up our bodies with different delicious cuisines, I will show them around Downtown LA and West Hollywood areas. I’ve been wanting to try Elio’s Woodfire Pizza for a long time, so we can drive down Sunset Boulevard and try the pizzas together. To continue the scenic trip, I will take them to the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook above the Hollywood Bowl on Mulholland Drive. This overlook offers arguably the best view of Los Angeles, especially during sunset and at night. And of course, we have to get dessert. My all time favorite donut store, The Donut Man, is now also open in Grand Central Market, so we can go there to grab some iconic strawberry donuts, maple glaze, and tiger tails. (Driving to Glendora to visit the OG location will also be a lot of fun and be very nostalgic).

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, I would like to thank my parents for supporting me in following my passions and encouraging me to pursue my dreams. My friends, Riya Mital, Hazel Lugartos, and Isabella Garay, always put a smile on my face. Whenever I am doubting myself, they are always there to shed some love. I am so grateful to have them in my life. My last shoutout goes to Claire Song, who draws the episode cover art for each guest every single week. She is the most artistic person I know and I am so glad to call her one of my closest friends as well.

Website: https://linktr.ee/thestudybreakpodcast

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestudybreakpodcast/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melody-dao/

Other: Email: officialstudybreakpodcast@gmail.com

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