I realize most of you won’t know who this woman is upfront, but it’s in the title and I want to talk about to-do lists! Plus I really like Hearst because they regularly send us content and photos. I think they sent us a takedown notice once and they were so nice about it that I was grateful they emailed us. That’s part of the reason I wanted to cover this interview with Kate Lewis, who is their chief content officer. Also, as I always say, I love talking about schedules and processes and find The Cut’s How I Get It Done series fascinating. Lewis said that she writes a list of things to do once a week and then just throws it out and doesn’t stress over it. I really like some of the other points she made, particularly about not sending email on off hours.
On to-do lists:
Once a week I write down everything on my to-do list. It’s a full page of items in eight-point font, and it’s a tremendously overwhelming thing. Then I throw it out. I figure whatever I can remember from what I’ve written down is what I really have to do, and everything else is kind of bullshit. It’s so good. For so long I had notebooks and downloaded to-do list apps, and as soon as I wrote everything in there, I was mad. So I was like, okay, I’m going to try a new approach, and this has been very effective for me. If you fall off the list, sorry!
On managing her inbox:
If you email me and I don’t respond, you have to email me again. I need a nudge. I travel a lot, and on airplanes I sort my inbox by sender and go through by human. I’ll search for all the emails from “Stella,” and deal with it for Stella. Then when I get off the plane, that person gets like 5,000 emails from me, but that’s how I do it.
I’m self conscious about emailing people at night or on the weekends because I think they will feel like they should respond, and I don’t really want them to. So, I actually turn off my email during off-hours and then wait to send them at a normal time. If I’m doing email late at night, I won’t send it until the morning.
On managing managers:
I try to manage with compassion. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about because I think often people who seem optimistic and smiley — which is just my general nature — are perceived as not gritty or tough enough to manage. I really want to fly in the face of that.
As someone who writes a daily to-do list, this frustrates me. I get that the point of writing a to-do list and throwing it out may be like studying for a test, but you get a free pass in life to bring notes. It would drive me crazy to have to memorize what I need to do instead of making a list. I get a little rush out of checking sh-t off and getting it done. I’m one of those people who does the dishes right away and who likes doing the dishes at my friends’ houses though. Also, how do you only have one to-do list for an entire week? *Drinks more coffee*
As for the not sending emails on weekends issue, this is something they’ve discussed on Happier with Gretchen Rubin, one of my favorite podcasts. Gretchen regularly sends emails on weekends and holidays, but realizes that some people hate this so she’s trying to stop doing that. I try not to do it too much either. Once someone emailed me on Christmas Eve and I was so pissed off I decided not to work with them. That was an exception though.