"I Don't Check My Emails"—How a Successful Founder Starts Her Day (We're Taking Note)

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It’s easy to do. We’ve all fallen privvy to it—waking up in the morning and checking our inbox first thing. It may feel like you’re being productive by clearing out some emails before you hit the office, but just that simple act of checking your phone could be making you unhappy. In fact, email notifications have been linked to higher feelings of anxiety. It’s for this reason that Joanna Griffiths, founder and CEO of intimates brand, Knix decided to remove it from her morning routine altogether. “It gives me an hour or two of clarity before seeing what is coming through my inbox,” she tells us.

We tapped Griffiths to take us through a day in her life before she hits the stage for our Lenovo Pop-Up in Toronto. Read on to find out what other pearls of wisdom she has for us.

What does an average day in your life look like?

Honestly it’s been changing a lot lately. I just had my first baby eight weeks ago and so am settling into the whole mom and entrepreneur thing. I typically spend a couple of hours at home and then head into the office around 10 with Cole (my baby) and Rebecca, our nanny. I do a mix of meetings that usually cover brand marketing (dreaming up our next big campaigns), product design (dreaming up our next big products), operations and finance. We are hiring at a pretty rapid rate and so I’ll often squeeze in a candidate interview here or there (my team does the vetting but I still meet with every hire to ensure culture fit). I build in short breaks so I can breastfeed Cole and try and be out the door at around five.

What time do you get up? What’s the first thing you do upon waking?

Pre-baby I would wake up at 8 a.m. (I need my sleep). Post baby it is more like 7 a.m. I love to spend my first hour with Cole. He’s so smiley in the mornings and it really sets my day off on the right foot.

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Are you a night owl or a morning person? When do you do your most important work and why?

I am absolutely a night owl. I find that some of my best work and most creative thinking happens at night—often over a glass of wine while sitting in my backyard chatting with Dave my husband who is also our creative director. I need the space and time to chat through concepts without the confines of a scheduled meeting. Plus, the wine helps.

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like? What rituals set you up for success?

To be honest, lately my mornings have been pretty hectic. My main focus has shifted to getting Cole fed and changed, a coffee in hand, and all of us out the door. I am a long time fan of what I have deemed “car makeup”. It’s when you put your makeup on in the car (while someone else is driving). My days are so jam-packed that I try and make use of every minute that I can. I do have one rule though, I don’t check my emails until I am set up and settled for the day. It gives me an hour or two of clarity before seeing what is coming through my inbox.

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Being a founder means you are wearing so many hats and across so many facets of the business. How do you manage your time effectively?

I am a big fan of weekly meetings where I can check in on all facets of the business and we’ve got a pretty great reporting system set up where everyday I can get a pulse check on how things are going. I also have learned to block off three chunks of time throughout the day that work as flex time for that urgent last minute situation that emerges or that phone call that you just have to squeeze in. I have these first thing when I get into the office, so I can map out what I want to accomplish for the day, 30 minutes at lunch so I can eat and check in on emails and then again for the end of the day. Keeping this reserve time has really helped me stay on top of things.

Do you ever reach inbox zero? How do you handle the constant influx of inquiries and communication entrepreneurs are so familiar with?

I think my days as an entertainment publicist have trained me to stay on top of emails and to respond to things as they come in. It’s a slippery slope once you start falling behind and so I try to be proactive as much as possible.