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How Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar Keeps Her Future Self On Track

“Whatever the opposite of FOMO is, I have that.”

How Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar Keeps Her Future Self On Track
Dona Sarkar, author, fashion designer, blogger, and head of Windows Insider Program at Microsoft [Photo: Ramona Rosales]

I believe that your dreams and your day job can coexist. I always have at least four projects going on at the same time, and I switch frequently between them. If I’m struggling to work on a project for Windows Insiders, I’ll write a chapter of a nonfiction book I am writing, or I’ll sketch something from my fashion line, or I’ll watch a short [tutorial] video.

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If I have a pocket of time—seven minutes or 20 minutes—I set my timer and do a work sprint. You can whip off 10 emails or five ideas in five minutes. If I have seven minutes to write a document, I will finish it: It may not be the best document in the world, but all the bones will be down, enough to the point that I can share it with someone and ask them what they think of the overall framework.

I don’t put all my emotional eggs in one basket. I’ve never had a bad day in my life because I can always go and do something that means a lot to me, and that I have invested a lot in, and that is within my control.

Whatever the opposite of FOMO is, I have that. I am too busy living my life to worry about what other people are doing.

Time she wakes up: 4 a.m.

First thing she does: “I write five gratitudes, five worries, and five intentions. It’s a way for me to prioritize what really matters.”

Productivity tools: “I have a shared OneNote with Jeremiah Marble, the founder and director of the Windows Insider Program. If I feel that I could use his help or vice versa, we’ll send each other a quick message. It’s all real time.”

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Email strategy: “I check email three times a day: morning, afternoon, and evening. I have a filter that only lets in emails where my name is on the ‘To’ line. If I’m on a CC or alias, I check those emails only a few times a week.”

Dealing with the news: “I consume news twice a day: in the morning, after I am done writing in my journal, and in the evening. During the day, if something breaks, I will find out about it from 12 different sources.”

Motivational object: “I have a framed needlepoint that says hustle, which one of my coworkers made for me.”

Best habit: “I’m not afraid to start something. I don’t need to be good at something that I have never done before: I assume I am going to be very bad.”

Worst habit: “I am awake at all hours and have a lot of energy, which can be overwhelming to some people.”

Productivity advice: “You should track your time every hour of the day, then consider whether what you are doing leaves you in a positive or negative mood. Then do more of the things that bring you joy.”

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Time she goes to bed: Between midnight and 1 a.m.