In order to handle the volume and pace of work today between email, the media, social media, and everything else, I asked a few powerful women I know how they manage it.
It sounds kind of trite to ask - and answer – with tips and advice that can seem so basic, but the truth is, we all need to hear it and internalize it. I say this as I'm writing at 9:30 pm (after a rushed “dinner” of leftover ravioli and take-out mango chicken). My husband has already reminded me that I'm not really a shining example of the “lean back” philosophy, nor am I a great exemplar of time management. Another reason why I turned to these women who have obviously figured it all out:
Donna Sokolsky, founder, Sparkpr
- Work out in the am – even if it means waking up an ungodly hour, it's worth it
- Buy a treadmill for the office – it's great for office morale and the waistline, plus you'll have more energy.
- Work productivity.
- Most email is noise – check it first thing in am and when you get to work, then lunch, end of day, and before you sleep.
- Turn off the instant messenger and Facebook – it can suck hours out of your day.
- Use lunch to have team meetings.
- Keep meetings to 15 or 30 minutes.
- Use the train or commute to power through work emails, calls, etc.
- If it's really important, work from wherever you can be most productive – for example, work from home.
- Travel with your notebook or laptop so you're never caught unprepared and don't feel out of control.
- Make a big pot of (soup, stew) for the week on Sundays so you have meals ready.
- Keep energy bars in your purse.
- Keep a shelf of “emergency foods” like soups, mac and cheese, etc., that you can make in a pinch.
- Order groceries online and have a recurring delivery.
- Pinpoint your biggest pain point and consider outsourcing it – for example, hire a bookkeeper to keep on top of your finances, bills, taxes, Quickbooks, and budget.
- Book all appointments online.
- Multitask whenever possible.
- Be sure to get 8 hours of sleep and downtime. If you have trouble sleeping, Melatonin is a natural sleep enhancer that can make a big difference
Elizabeth Talerman, CEO and managing partner, Nucleus Branding
What's funny is that I don't think of my work schedule as separate from my life schedule. I've been an entrepreneur for so long that I have a great sense of freedom. I may work for 15 hours straight but I may also work for two days instead of seven. I may start analyzing some quantitative research data at 10 pm and go until 3 am but then I get up at 9 am and run and start working again just after lunch.
So 24/7 suits me just fine because I am the one that decides (for the most part) what I do and when and that somehow feels a heck of a lot better than punching a clock.
Arianna Huffington, chair, president, and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post Media Group
After years of burning the candle at both ends, I've learned several tips for unplugging, recharging, and, by doing so, reconnecting with myself. In no particular order:
- Family doesn't hinder your career, it helps it, because you're not obsessed, you're not working from your inbox, you're more creative, you have a bigger perspective on everything. In short, you have less stress because you have something else in your life.
- One of my favorite things on a Sunday morning is to pile up all my work and stay in bed, making calls and answering emails. It's the perfect combination of productivity and relaxation. And here's the best part: if I decide to do what I should be doing more of -- unplugging and disconnecting from my BlackBerrys, iPads, and laptops -- I'm ready at a moment's notice to fall into a nap.
- And finally, I've become an evangelist for all things unplugging and recharging, including sleep (being an evangelist is good because it not only spreads the word, but it keeps you honest). Two years ago, I sent all my friends the same Christmas gift -- a Pottery Barn alarm clock -- so they could stop using the excuse that they needed their very tempting iPhone by their bed to wake them up in the morning.
Ruth Sarfaty is managing director and head of the New York office of Sparkpr.