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Airbnb’s Belinda Johnson On Why Being Too Productive Can Be A Problem

Airbnb’s Belinda Johnson On Why Being Too Productive Can Be A Problem
Air club: Belinda Johnson taps into the buzz of a busy day. [Photos: Chloe Aftel]

For the past four years, Airbnb’s chief business affairs and legal officer, Belinda Johnson, has been responsible for Airbnb’s regulatory efforts, a tough, sometimes controversial position as the company has grown. Now she’s been promoted to an even bigger role, helping to steer Airbnb’s overall strategy and adding a host of new responsibilities, including public policy, communications, social initiatives, and philanthropy. In other words, her already epic to-do list just got a whole lot longer.

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Organizing principle

“Rigorous prioritization. In the morning I look at my calendar and think about whether things that aren’t critical can be moved to the next week.”

Key tool

“Apple Notes. I use it all day long. As I’m going through my email, I’m either taking care of things in the moment or making [an entry] in Apple Notes that I need to deal with it later. At the end of the day, I go through all my notes and make sure I’ve addressed everything.”

Strategy to beat procrastination

“I have the opposite issue, which is that I try to get everything done. That ends up being an endless stream, so I have to force myself to take breaks.”

Sleep schedule

“I try to get seven hours. I’m in bed by 10, but I may not actually go to sleep until 11. It doesn’t take long. I just breathe in and out maybe 10 times, and that does it.”

Work on vacation?

“I definitely check in once in the morning, then in the afternoon and at night. Just to make sure there’s nothing urgent. That helps me relax.”

Coping tactic

“I never really feel overwhelmed; I feel energized by what goes on in our day. But I have a bracelet I look at. My husband gave it to me for our 23rd wedding anniversary and it helps me get back into perspective.”

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