One Entrepreneur's Formula For A Fulfilling Career Without Burnout
To know Minna Lee is to wonder when she has time to sleep. Her day jobs include personal trainer, nutrition coach, wellness and food blogger, and entrepreneur. (Her company, Live 24k, is an addicting blend of turmeric and collagen.) Here, the self-proclaimed "Jill of all trades" talks about how staying organized, using Sunday as a planning day, and finding inspiration in nature helps her achieve success without burnout.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Although it varies throughout the week depending on my schedule for training clients, generally a standard day begins with a 5 a.m. wake-up for clients from around 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Then the day generally goes one of two ways: It's either a day I have scheduled a cluster of meetings, events, and work errands in the city (while diving into coffee shops in between to catch up on emails) until heading back to Brooklyn around 4 p.m. to get some more work done for a few hours—or I'll be heading back home to Brooklyn right after my morning clients on select days to get started on my "desk" work. From then on until about 6:30 p.m., I try to use these days for deep work and calls.
Can you walk me through your workspace setup? What do you surround yourself with when you're working and why?
It is my dream to one day have an office in my home, even if it's super tiny. I currently use what is supposed to be my dining table for my desk. I'm actually super simple with my setup: I always have my laptop, agenda/notepads, a pencil pouch, pouches with my external hard drives, and a coaster. Extra flourishes that make my workspace feel a bit nicer are my essential oil diffuser, a candle, and fresh flowers to brighten things up.
I keep a very tidy workspace, as I really, really don't work well in clutter...which makes things a bit hard when I get about 10 shipments a week of products for work, but I never keep that stuff physically ON my desk.
What does productivity mean to you? Has your definition of it changed over the years?
My definition of productivity has definitely evolved over the years. I used to feel productive if I was constantly busy and base my level of productivity on how much I could achieve in a given day. Fast-forward to now, if I manage to get through my top three priority items in a day, have time for myself to work out, cook dinner, and catch up with my boyfriend at the end of the day? THAT is productivity to me.
How do you set yourself up for a productive day?
Sundays are my magic day. Sure, no one loves the idea of whipping out work on the weekend, but I'll try to sit down for about an hour on Sundays to write out my agenda for the week. I highlight my urgent priorities, macro goals, and make sure my calendar is aligned because in my job, things are constantly jumping around on my calendar! After I do this, I enter the week feeling ready to work because I know exactly what to target. I often find myself overwhelmed and not as efficient if I don't take the time to do this!
How often do you try to take breaks from work, and what do you do on them?
This is something I'm terrible about! It's ironic because people think that working from home means time for nice home-cooked meals in the middle of the day, whereas most WFH-ers will likely tell you that it's almost harder to take a proper lunch break. So lately what I've been trying to do is wait until I find myself feeling stuck or inefficient, and I'll go either make myself some coffee or tea without touching my phone, or if I'm really having a high-stress and overwhelming day, I'll take myself for a walk around my neighborhood for about 20 minutes with some music.
What's the most unexpected thing in your workspace, and what's the story behind it?
A random sticky note from my boyfriend on the back of a coaster. It's cute and makes me smile knowing it's there.
Where do you look to find inspiration for your work?
In absolutely everything and anything that does NOT have to do with my work. If I'm needing inspiration for anything creative, the last thing I do is to look at social media or any kind of media, really. Instead I'll go outside to pay attention to the colors and light of nature, the characters of NYC, and architecture. If I need inspiration for my general career or mindset, I love reading books from female powerhouses I admire or watching interviews/panels online on the topics I'm struggling with.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
Hmm...for this past year at least, I'm proud of my film photography work, as it was a new modality for me that helped me hone my skills as a creative entrepreneur.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.