How to get sh*t done in life
Do the hard things first.
“If you have a challenging problem to solve, get right to it. When you keep putting it off, you waste energy thinking about it. Tackle challenges head-on, or they start to seem insurmountable.”
—Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices, a nonprofit that has trained more than 12,000 women leaders in 140-plus countries
Take your own time seriously.
“A packed day involves me driving from one place to another. While in transit, I’ll talk to my team and eliminate one or two meetings that way. And I’ll schedule 15 minutes into my day when I can just think. I have no other responsibility than to consider how the day is going and what I still need to do.”
—Stacy Brown-Philpot, entrepreneur-in-residence at Google Ventures who has overseen more than 40 product launches, including Android
Carve out space in your schedule for projects you care about.
“When I was writing my book, I set aside three weekends and had my husband take the kids skiing. I woke up at 7:00 A.M. on Friday and just jammed on it all three days. There was no better feeling than when Sunday came around and I had accomplished a ton.”
—Heather McDonald, featured performer, writer, and story producer on Chelsea Lately and author of My Inappropriate Life
Maximize your mornings.
“I go to my 6:00 A.M. SoulCycle class, and it clears my mind. Once I’ve had my 50 minutes to myself, I head home, have breakfast, figure out what I have to do that day, and sit down to write some emails before I go to the office. At that hour nobody is answering you, and you can actually go through emails and get organized.”
—Jana Fleishman, head of media and artist relations for Roc Nation, overseeing publicity for Jay Z, Rita Ora, and others
Keep the long-term goal in sight.
“I figure out where my team needs to end up, then work backward. And I make sure we’re making progress toward that every day. When I was working on the Obama campaign, we met daily to remind everyone what the ultimate goal was and get agreement about how to get there. And we never left a meeting without a list of things to do and who was going to do them.”
—Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and CEO of Cutter Media Group, representing politicians and Fortune 500 companies
Speak up, woman!
“Hurricane Sandy hit my city hard. More than 50 percent of Hoboken was completely flooded. We were told the National Guard was coming, but there was no sign of them. So when I had the chance to speak to CNN, I used my appearance to draw attention to that fact. As soon as Governor Christie knew, he sent the National Guard. You have to keep asking, advocating, and looking at things from different angles.”
—Dawn Zimmer, mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, who rallied federal support for her waterlogged city and helped create the Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund
Actually stop multitasking.
“I have two young kids. When I’m with my girls in the evening, I’m not checking emails and worrying about work. I cut that stuff out and focus on the kids until they go to bed, then I can turn the computer back on. Women often try to do everything all at once, and we sometimes end up not doing anything well.”
—Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C.; founder/ CEO of education-reform organization StudentsFirst; and author of Radical: Fighting to Put Students First
Sweat the small stuff.
“All of my big successes have come out of the little successes along the way, and from consistently doing a good job, being available to people, and having a positive attitude. I take every job seriously, even if it seems small. Those clients will come back saying, ‘We loved it so much we want you to do this big project.’ ”
—Mary Frisbie Wood, songwriter and producer who has written music for Britney Spears and the Spice Girls; her production company, Frisbie, creates music and sound for TV shows, commercials, and apps
Remember: Face time counts.
“I’m a big believer that an email is good, a phone call is better, and in-person is best. So whenever I travel, I try to meet as many people as I can and have one-on-one time. It helps me build that rapport. We often forget that we’re human and everybody needs special attention.”
—Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, a nonprofit that has reached an estimated 55 million Latino households nationwide and registered 225,000 voters