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How to use the 80/20 rule to focus on what matters most

Fredrika Klarén, head of sustainability at electric car maker Polestar, has mastered the art of getting things done. Here’s how she spends her days.

How to use the 80/20 rule to focus on what matters most
[Photo: Nora Lorek]

We talk a lot about the 80/20 rule—that we need to focus on the 20% of the issues that have 80% of the impact. Especially when it comes to sustainability, it’s important to set a clear strategy to focus on what matters most. That means sometimes I have to be the boring person in the room [at electric vehicle company Polestar] and say no to projects that might be popular, or look really good on Instagram, if they’re actually not having any impact. It also ensures that my team doesn’t get overworked.

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Another thing that drives exhaustion is that we lose connection to our own voice and the purpose we were filled with when we went to university, or whatever. It’s important that my team and I stay connected to our own “why.” In the corporate world, you can lose sight of your own way of talking of things. Corporate culture is great in that you have strong messaging, clear statements, and so on. But I want my team to find their own voice and feel like they are still challenging things they don’t see us doing enough about—and that they see that is okay. This means they get more out of the day and are close to the purpose that we have.

Time she wakes up

Between 5 and 6 a.m.

First thing she does in the morning

“I have a 1-year-old terrier, and he’s wide awake when I get up. We go to the kitchen, get a cup of coffee, and sit in the window. I try not to grab the phone, but sit with him and look out and think about, What do I want to do today? What should I focus on?”

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Productivity tools or apps she uses

“A tiny notepad, from the French company Rhodia. It makes me write down, like, only five to-dos for the day. I used to have giant to-do lists that I never got through, which made me feel, at the end of the day, like I had failed miserably.”

How her routine has changed over the past 18 months

“Like so many others, I got a dog during the pandemic. He saves me from my workaholic tendencies. He needs to go out three times a day. And he needs to run around in the forest. So that is what I’ve been doing.”

Strategy for working with colleagues in different time zones

“Yesterday, I had this amazing day, when I started off with a meeting with my Chinese colleagues and ended the day with a meeting with my colleagues in San Francisco. I’ve worked in global companies—Ikea, a fashion company, and now Polestar—for so long that I know the time zones by heart and when to send someone a chat. It’s important not to interrupt people when they are supposed to be at home resting.”

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Best habit

“The time that I carve out with my husband. Saturday morning, we go down by the sea—I live in Gothenburg, on the west coast of Sweden—and we swim. When we get back, we make breakfast for the kids. It’s so energizing. During workdays, if I get an hour for lunch, I go down with my dog for a quick swim.”

Worst habit

“I am so impatient that I tend to take the role of being a leader of any meeting I’m in. Which is really annoying, I think. But I catch myself doing it. It’s because I want to get things done.”

Last thing she does at night

“I read. It just takes a page or two [of a novel], and I’m asleep.”

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Time she goes to bed

10 p.m.

Read more about the secrets of this year’s most productive people.

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