Written by The Strategy
TS Alum with incredible careers share their advice on how to develop a strong work ethic.
How to stay productive: “Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of specialization. Now, I feel super productive when I spend time doing what I do best. Being in the design studio is my happy place – I love creating new pieces and pulling inspiration for collections.”
Tips or tricks to stay on track: “I have a great morning routine that helps me start my day off on the right foot. I love to wake up early, drink hot water with lemon and have a few moments to myself to meditate or journal. Then, during the day if I feel my focus slipping, I like to take a quick break and walk around my neighbourhood. That usually helps me get back on track.”
Polly Rodriguez, CEO & Co-Founder of Unbound
One piece of advice, when it comes to developing a strong work ethic: “I think the thing I’ve learned over the last 8 years of building Unbound is that if you want to enact change, it takes time. Work ethic isn’t about the number of hours you’re online leading up to a launch, it’s about what happens after a big moment. It’s the quiet hours you spend alone ruminating on the difficult strategic questions when no one is looking or paying attention. It’s all about consistency, diligence, and accountability. In the beginning, you are only accountable to yourself – it takes time to learn how to balance patience with grit.”
How to stay productive: “I am still learning the whole work/life balance thing – it’s not easy, especially for women, femme, and non-binary identifying founders who have to operate so much more efficiently than our cis-male counterparts in order to prove our worth. Over the years, I’ve learned that when I hit a real burnout wall, I have to give myself a break to get inspires – go to a museum, read something interesting that has nothing to do with work, or take a walk outside. I have a bad habit of trying to just push through that burnout and that only leads to more burnout. I’m still a work in progress though!”
Tips or tricks to stay on track: “Discover what kind of learner you are and then build your time management around how you absorb information. For example, I’m an incredibly visual learner, and so I have to see my tasks all laid out in front of me in order to prioritize them. Since starting Unbound in 2014, I’ve always had a daily notebook where I write down all my tasks and responsibilities and then check them off as they are completed. Physically writing down each task allows me to mentally catalogue what’s in front of me each day, which makes it feel more manageable. I’ll highlight specific tasks that I know will take longer and then block out time on my calendar to tackle them so I won’t be interrupted. Time is a funny thing – if you don’t manage it effectively, you’ll run out of it really quickly.”
One piece of advice, when it comes to developing a strong work ethic: “First and foremost, it is imperative that you are emotionally connected to what you do – that’s where the spark comes to keep going. One exercise you can do for yourself is to brainstorm what I call the 4 P’s – your People, your Purpose, your Positioning, and your Personality. Knowing these four foundational elements of who you are, why you’re doing it all and who it’s all for will dramatically shift the way you engage with and move forward in not only your day-to-day, but your long-term journey.”
How to stay productive: “I have always been self-motivated, but I do believe that this comes with having a clear intention of where I want to go. After you establish your 4 P’s, I would recommend that you write out what your big goals are, and then jot down ideas on smaller initiatives to get there. It provides you with a higher vision that motivates you to keep going, and smaller wins that you can be proud of along the way. Daily, I go outside for a walk in nature and for a bit of reflection or mediation, for at least 20 minutes. Keep a journal and write down what you’re working on, ideas that may come up, and work out any feelings or thoughts you might be experiencing. I have one journal for each year, and I find it’s so helpful to be able to look back through the year and at the end of the year where you at a certain time and acknowledge how far you’ve come since. I know others who use videos in the same way, recording video journals for themselves. Choose whichever format fits best for your style and productivity.”
Tips or tricks to stay on track: “After I’ve set my big goals, I like to do what I call the One-Word Intention exercise. This gives you a one word mantra to keep yourself on track for the coming period, and can act as an activation word to get you going. It also supports you in staying on track when things don’t go as planned. It comes with settling into the trust and certainty that it will all work out in the best way possible for you and for whom you are serving, because you are intentional with what you are doing. You always have your 4 P’s to go back to (the core of who you are) and your action word to fall back on in those times when you are distracted, unmotivated, or overwhelmed. Example words I have used when activating my own initiatives are: Power, Light, Level-Up, and this years, it’s Honour.”
Adrien Bettio, Co-Founder of 437
One piece of advice, when it comes to developing a strong work ethic: “Everyone has the power to change and grow, so I think part of developing a strong work ethic is like any other sort of personal development. Recognize where you are now, and consider where you want to be. If you’re lacking motivation to work, why is that? Is it because you hate your company? You don’t like what your day-to-day looks like? You don’t have big dreams that you’re trying to achieve? Understanding why you don’t have something and taking time to figure out how to cultivate it in a way that works for you, would be my suggestion. If you want to get more fit but aren’t exercising, you would probably need to sit down and make a plan for success in order to make a real change, rather than just telling yourself, ‘I’m going to start going to the gym tomorrow’.”
How to stay productive: “Learn more about yourself, understand what works for you, when your brain is the sharpest, what work activities drain you the most, the things that bring you the most joy at work, etc. Having a better understanding of these things makes it easier to plan your day according to your productivity. For example, if meetings drain you and you don’t often have the energy to do much independent work after a bunch of meetings, try to put your meetings in the afternoon. If your brain is sharpest in the morning, block the first hour or two of the day and plug away when you’re most productive.
When it comes to your career in general, I think it’s important to take a step back and re-evaluate where you are versus where you’re going, every so often. Having fresh career goals that are aligned with your personal goals is key for staying motivated. I like to stop and ask myself if the things I’m doing today match-up with the things that bring me joy and are bringing me closer to where I want to be in a couple of years. If the answer is ‘no’, I understand something needs to shift. If the answer is ‘yes’, it reinvigorates me and makes me more motivated to keep going.”
Tips or tricks to stay on track: “Vision board – I think takin the time to think about what you want your life to look like is critical. Why work towards some arbitrary future without an idea of what you truly want/what makes you happy/what you define as success? I think the universal ideas of ‘success’ that we are raised to work towards can be a toxic and limiting way to look at success. Success to me might simply mean I work a 9-5 job where I do things I enjoy and I have an amazing work/life balance. Success to you might mean becoming a billionaire by the time you’re 40. Success to someone else could mean they get to travel the work for work. Understand what makes you happy and visualize the life you want for yourself so you can work towards that!
Set goals and rewards for those goals. It’s always more fun and motivating to work towards something when you know there is something great waiting for you when you get there.”