When I started Make Life Work back in 2019, nobody expected work life balance to be challenged so much over the following years. 4 years and 10 seasons on, I’ve decided to bring the format to a natural close. Here’s why.

Tech Focus

Many in tech have been working remotely for decades. It’s been recognised as an industry norm since the internet enabled distributed teams to communicate across the globe without travel or presence.

As someone who’s always preferred working in person with teams, I was fascinated by how people established healthy routines and arrangements with their own work life balance remotely and in person; defining boundaries between professional and personal time, maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones and looking after their own wellbeing.

Building on my own social circles I’ve met through the years, from online and in person, I reached out to friends and peers to find out more. I wanted a range of situations to tell different stories and perspectives; people who are employed or freelanced, with kids and without, health challenges, personal circumstances and a variety of different cultures around the UK and beyond. Most of these naturally work in tech but I also wanted to juxtapose those with other industries and demographics where possible.

The Pilot

At the time, I was working full time at ASOS, mostly in the London office, as a parent of two and husband. I wanted to extend my podcasting experience to more conversational formats after a year long stint with old friend James Norton on Verbal Diary so started to reach out to some immediately close friends in tech. I’d recently setup a Slack community for side projects so a few people in there jumped at the chance. I also contacted some Twitter friends who were also game, especially with their own side projects to discuss. Knowing I had to limit my commitments to avoid burn out, I decided to use seasons as milestones and only commit once a few recordings were scheduled and ideally in the can (pro tip learned from other podcasters).

Season 1 was released through December 2019 with Dom, Sam, Rachel, Dan and Mike then I had a brand new year to review how it went.

That Year

With typical January ambitions, renewed energy and satisfaction of Season 1 dropping, I set off to find a new round of guests for Season 2. I lined up recordings with Naomi, Kevin, Ashley, Mark and Dan and released them through February.

Just as Dan’s season finale dropped, news came from China of a potentially dangerous virus. I’d just started working at WorldFirst – a recently acquired Alibaba fintech startup – so we had a slight head start on what was happening with our China-based CTO forced to live in a hotel room for many weeks. When they told us to “take laptops home until further notice”, little did we realise this would become the “new norm” for most and for quite a while as well.

Work life balances were about to change dramatically for most, truly testing people to the max, but also with the added pressure of a global pandemic seriously affecting everyone’s health.

For me, it took some adjustments to find that new balance. My secondary school teacher wife and school kids were forced to do education from home – something never comprehended before. Providing the time and space for everyone to adapt and continue doing what they do was an education in itself; a dyslexic young one doing primary classroom exercises on an iPad, an autistic teenager starting GCSEs in his bedroom and a senior leader in secondary school trying to facilitate art classes from our dining table amongst me starting a new job with Chinese and Stateside colleagues to factor in.

Needless to say, side projects and recording a podcast was not high up my list.

Home Edition

After settling into the new situation, like many, I found I had plenty spare time on my hands. Commuting wasn’t a thing, socialising in person wasn’t an option, even shopping in supermarkets left us with nothing better to do than watch more Netflix.

I had to keep my brain active and morale high (which TV does not do for me) so started reaching out to anyone who wanted to tell their lockdown adjustment story on the podcast.

It wasn’t hard to arrange recordings with another awesome range of guests; Luke, Stephen, Dom, Alex and Mike all said “yes” and got Season 3’s Home Edition rolling with a new angle about how they’ve adjusted their work life balance through lockdown. Obviously, it was wonderful speaking to them all after missing people in real life, plus we all had that shared passion for geeky tech stuff so that also helped me get through the newly isolated arrangements with like-minded folks (I love my family dearly but they don’t necessarily satisfy my geeky needs).

Conversations Continued

With a renewed passion and angle to the podcast, Season 4 came much easier with plenty people happy to share their stories from lockdown, giving me more variety to provide a diverse range of personalities and stories. Liz, Naomi, Franca, Dan and Brian lent their voices to another five episodes towards the end of 2020 before I took another seasonal break through to the new year.

With another round of new year resolutions motivating many, I decided to combine side projects by inviting some familiar names from our On The Side community with regular co-hosts and extra guests to bring their own stories. Mike and Sam joined me as residents with Shari, Juan and Jesse adding their thoughts on some topical conversations. I loved having others joining me on my side of the mic, giving us all a chance to bounce off each other, bringing out our personalities through more natural conversations. It helped knowing each other behind the scenes as it lent towards an extra level of comfort and banter, something that’s hard to provide with irregular guests. It took me back to my Verbal Diary days with James, knowing how to play around a bit more. Unfortunately (for us), Mike had a new baby due so we tied that season up until he found a new groove.

It was another 3 months before Season 6 returned when I managed to line up some quite reputable names from tech. Rob Manuel (off of B3ta and @Fesshole success) and Chris Heilmann (from Yahoo and Microsoft) joined me to reminisce over some classic moments of the Web but also reflect on more recent projects. I also connected with MT McCann and Chris Murphy from Belfast and the internet’s Lorna Mitchell brought her story on knowledge sharing with the web community.

Downloads were a record high thanks to a few timely RTs from the guests and it encouraged me more to keep going into Season 7 after a Summer break when I reconnected with Shari plus a range of new names to add more variety to the topics. Jamie & Lion and Wookie talked about their side gig along with the health challenges they live with, Dan Moore reached out from the States about his book writing, Silvia & Ely talked about their candle therapy joint venture as living partners, and Mubs talked about all his side projects he’s built over the years.

It was at this point I was starting to feel the strain from making the podcast. I was losing the love and enjoyment of it all with all the editing taking its toll and work life pressures weren’t helping either. Downloads were dropping and engagement was low. On The Side engagement was also on the decline with lockdown over, work life balance in turmoil and side project commitments reducing. Everyone was finding a new way of life and that pressure was felt in mine too. I needed a break.


During the slump, I found a website called Podmatch that tries to connect podcasters with new guests, thinking it might help find some potentially suitable people from around the globe. Maybe with people reaching out, I’d find my mojo again. Low and behold, it worked.

Dustin reached out to talk about polymathy (quite a relevant topic for me, juggling different skills in different environments) and Shannon Almeida from news startup Volv also reached out to talk work life balance whilst hustling a startup through the pandemic. With the motivation of inbound guests to get me going again, I also lined up chats with old friends Andy and Dom plus new friend from On The Side, Simon Scarfe, about habit tracking – another topic close to my heart.

With a renewed passion for the podcast, I then had a few more inbound guests reaching out to bring their stories, coincidentally many ex-colleagues from my time at ASOS. Carlo, AJ, Lewis, James and Patricia offered their voices to Season 9 along with Michele and Cole about their own self-employed arrangements with parenting duties and personal health concerns. The season finale wrapped up for another Summer break and not too soon as I was approaching another potential burnout overcommitting with 7 episodes.

I was also struggling to source suitable guests for the podcast, feeling like it had reached a natural end after nearly 3 years of starting it all. I was also noticing my typical cycle of enthusiasm and lost passion, especially in the latter part of the year, so gave myself a break to work out what’s next. Was it time to sunset the project?

One Final Push

As always, the new year arrived with more enthusiasm and a renewed engagement in our On The Side community. It was wonderful to see so many people thinking about their own goals for 2023 along with any side projects to compliment them. The energy from the community motivated me to give Season 10 a push.

I knew in my heart it could be the end but I wanted to go out on a high, experimenting with a few different formats based on what I enjoyed. Sam and Mike volunteered for a reunion nearly 2 years on, revisiting our panel discussion format I loved, Montserrat and Ian volunteered their stories from a mutual acquaintance’s Mastodon toot, bringing some fascinating new voices to the conversation, and I reached out to old friends Adrian, Andy and Dan to provide their reminiscent stories too.

I did consider a solo monologue format as well but, after bouncing the idea around a few people, it felt unsuitable to the Make Life Work format (despite me being the common voice people probably followed it for).

I also had 5 episodes planned which took me back to the original season length, coming full circle on the audience expectations. I knew that would be enough for me to enjoy the production process before burnout potentially kicked in.

What Next?

As I said at the start, that concludes the entire Make Life Work podcast as it’s known. It’s been quite the journey over the past 3 (and a bit) years, one I could never have expected when it all began.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed speaking to such an amazing crowd of people, sharing their stories with a loyal following, and learning so much in the process.

Podcasting is an art form often neglected as something anyone can do. Granted, anyone CAN make a podcast as you technically only need an internet enabled device with a mic but crafting over 50 episodes of reasonable quality audio with tight narratives around 45 minutes long takes more effort than you might realise.

Originally, I used GarageBand on MacOS with Skype or Zoom calls for capturing audio. This took many hours to edit, up to 8-10 hours depending on the episode recording (especially as I adopted what I like to call the Nicholas Parsons technique to trim the fat). As the podcast evolved, I started to use tools like Zencastr to record the individual audio tracks (it was free through lockdown and continued for hobbyists since) and, more recently, Descript to produce the final audio – a game-changing app that uses AI to automatically transcribe audio, introducing a text-based interface for editing.

I’ve even taken all this knowledge I’ve acquired over the last 18 years of podcasting to help ASOS setup their own ASOS Tech Podcast, sharing what I’ve learned with a passionate community, enabling them all to keep the content coming. I’d love to continue providing knowledge and expertise for others to share their voice, possibly even turning it into another side hustle, but let’s see where things go.

I’ve got other side projects in the works that will take up my own personal time so I’m keen to reserve capacity for them and not impact crucial family time with my wife and kids needing my attention this year.

After 10 seasons of Make Life Work, I believe I’ve found my voice. Now I just need to find the right topics to talk about.