Designer Joy Cho On The Power Of Writing Things Down

That’s just one of her keys to getting everything done. “Things are always racing in my head,” she says.

Designer Joy Cho On The Power Of Writing Things Down
Prints charming: Joy Cho has a colorful approach to getting it all done. [Photos: Emily Berl]

Joy Cho, the Los Angeles–based designer, author, and founder of the lifestyle site Oh Joy!, has big goals: “To make life happier and prettier and more meaningful,” she says. One of Pinterest’s most influential users (she has more than 13 million followers), Cho is known for creating cheery, brightly hued patterns that have graced Hygge & West wallpaper, Nod children’s bedding, specially designed Band-Aids, and even a Microsoft mouse. Next spring, she will introduce her second line of products for Target, which is sure to increase her following—and her workload.


Key tool

“I put everything I need to do on Google Calendar. There are different categories and a color code. My brain works in color: Green is active things I need to do, and once something is done, I change it to gray, which fades to the background.”

Biggest productivity issue

“When you hear that ding, you have this compulsion to check [your phone]. I already work too much. There’s nothing wrong with reading a magazine or a book or even staring into space.”

Sleep schedule

“I get six to seven hours, which is not terrible. Things are always racing in my head. The minute I go to bed, I have an idea that pops up. I don’t like to keep loose paper around, so I write in the iPhone’s Notes app. If it’s something specific I need to do, the Reminders app is great—I can set a very specific time.”

Great advice

“It sounds obvious, but ‘write it down.’ I never understand how waiters in restaurants just remember orders! I have so much going on—with kids, with my business. If I don’t write it down, I will forget.”

Bad habit

“If I still have things to do after my kids go to bed, I work in bed for a couple of hours. It’s physically not good and probably mentally not good. I think I’m relaxing, but really I’m sitting in a hunched position and it’s terrible for my back. If my eyes are bugging out, I’m like, ‘Stop it, Joy. Go to sleep.’ ”


About the author

Jeff Chu writes on international affairs, social issues, and design for Fast Company. His first book, Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America, was published by HarperCollins in April 2013.