Published on August 19, 2019

By age 24, Jaclyn Johnson had already started one company. By 30, she had launched another, landing her on Forbes’s 30-Under-30 list and marking the beginning of an empire. That second business is the conference and online platform Create & Cultivate, and Johnson has since added even more accomplishments to her résumé: She’s interviewed everyone from Gloria Steinem to Issa Rae, written a book, and hosted a podcast. 

Suffice to say, the entrepreneur needs a workspace that can keep up. Enter: Ginny Macdonald, the interior designer (and Emily Henderson protégée) who stepped in to design the new Create & Cultivate office in Los Angeles. The space is bright and contemporary, and includes cozy meeting nooks and cheery colors to help make Monday mornings less scary. Speaking of, we chatted with Johnson to get the lowdown on how she preps for a productive week. (Spoiler: Her surroundings have a lot to do with it.)

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Photo by Smith House Photo | Design by Ginny Macdonald

Ignore Your In-box…at Least for a Little While

For Johnson, a productive Monday starts on Sunday. “I have to get a full night’s sleep,” she shares, adding that she actually does get the requisite eight hours a night (!). On Monday, she wakes up around 6 a.m. and makes it a point not to check her phone or emails. “It’s important for me to have this time both mentally and physically before the workday begins,” says Johnson. “If I check my in-box, then my morning is over because I’m already thinking about my to-do list.”

Instead, she walks her dog, has coffee with her husband, and takes her time getting ready. During her 15-minute commute, she’ll listen to a podcast or call her sister. By the time she gets to the office, around 7:30 a.m., she’s focused and ready to get started. 

Kick Off Your Workday With Some Alone Time

Johnson likes to be the first one in the office, arriving an hour or so before her employees. “I put on some music to set the mood, then settle into my office and close the door to focus. This is my zen space,” she says. She and Macdonald picked clean, minimal decor from CB2 to make her personal workspace as calming as possible. “Once I’m all settled in, I start tackling my to-do list and fielding emails,” she adds.

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Photo by Smith House Photo | Design by Ginny Macdonald
imagePin It
Photo by Smith House Photo | Design by Ginny Macdonald

Make Lists 

Johnson writes everything down—but there’s a system. “The secret is in my organization of the to-do list,” she divulges. “I create a list of tasks I need to address that day, an urgent section of items that need immediate attention, and a follow-up part for things that aren’t as time sensitive.”

Optimize Your Schedule

“Know your most productive hours,” recommends Johnson. “For me, it’s the morning. Play to those strengths and understand what works for you.” This is when she tackles her in-box—and yes, she’s an in-box zero gal. “I often joke that I’m a professional email answer-er, so my in-box is hyper-organized with files and folders that help me sort through the craziness,” she says.

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Photo by Smith House Photo | Design by Ginny Macdonald

Micromanage Yourself

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. “I actually schedule time on my calendar for ‘work’—insane, right?” jokes Johnson. “But sometimes, if you put things in your calendar, like ‘self-care’ or ‘no phone time,’ you will pay attention to it!” 

“Know your most productive hours. Play to those strengths and understand what works for you.”

Beat That Midday Slump 

The quickest way to do so, according to Johnson, is by changing up your environment. This is why the Create & Cultivate office includes so many different areas: a lounge space, a pink meeting room with comfy sofas, a kitchen with high tables, etc. 

“Who doesn’t want to work in a space they love being in?” she says. “Besides, when you factor in that we spend an average of 90,000 hours at work in our lifetime, your surroundings are crucial to creativity, productivity, and collaboration.” 

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Photo by Smith House Photo | Design by Ginny Macdonald

Pause for a Minute

“You can’t be productive every single second of the day, so I find the best path is to have periods of intense focus, followed by a break,” Johnson shares. She swears by her Miracle TimeCube Timer as a great time-management tool. 

Skip the Indulgences (for Now)

Johnson’s not big on treating herself on Mondays, choosing to make her weekdays as productive as possible and saving the fun till the weekend. “They typically include a glass of Chardonnay, puppy cuddles, Netflix binges, and the occasional Pilates class,” she says. 

See more productivity tips:
Here’s How a Productivity Expert Plans Out Her Week
This Is When the Most Productive People Wake Up
Honey, I Shrunk Your Morning Routine

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