Learn to be more productive from Microsoft’s Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green

If you are one of those who often wonder how executives in ultra-sized companies like Microsoft can keep up with their huge responsibilities and busy schedules and still have a life, GeekWire’s new interview with Microsoft’s Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green may offer some great insights.

Larson-Green has had a long history of working in interface design for some of Microsoft’s most popular products – over two decades, for reference – before finally being in charge of the Office Experience Organization inside Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group. Now she works with her team to make products more efficient and productive for users.

“This isn’t about doing more; it’s about getting the smaller stuff out of the way so I can focus on what matters most.”

Office is now a multi-platform affair, and Larson-Green certainly sounds comfortable with using several different OSes on every kind of system under the sun. In fact, she owns most of them at home: Windows, iPads, Androids and even an Xbox One). The Office Experience chief is also a mobile worker whose workspace is tied to her phone and laptop,  and a heavy app user, with some of her favorites include Office, Skype, Microsoft Translate, and even Netflix, Spotify and Kindle.

It is at this point that you might wonder how Larson-Green can even fit a Netflix session into her schedule (she has 8-12 meetings a day, and 50 meetings on the calendar at the time of interview, not to mention other tasks) , and her tips are simple: identifying and prioritizing important tasks instead of trying to do it “all”, and maintaining a healthy balance of invigorating and draining experiences. Refresh and reset time also should be maintained in small bits even in busy times, so that one can have time to think and focus on solutions, instead of just reacting.

“I believe that to build tech that is going to help people in their real life, you have to actually have one.”

Larson-Green also gives out some tricks for time-saving, including sorting emails by person and topic, and taking break and chatting with others about an ongoing task to help clear the mind for better work efficiency. Perhaps surprisingly, she also cites procrastination as one of her time-saving tricks, using the adrenaline rush at a closing deadline to motivate oneself and make decisions faster. Larson-Green is also a chief proponent of the work-life balance where work is work and home is home – something that often sets Microsoft’s culture apart from other big tech companies. If she can leave her phone at home for a dinner with the family, there’s no reason we can’t.

Besides time management tips, the interview also reveals several interesting tidbits about Larson-Green, including the books she read, the music she listens to, how she relieve stress, where she gets ideas, among other things. Being the Chief Experience Officer of one of Microsoft’s most important division is not an easy task, and we admire Larson-Green’s maintenance of a balanced life as much as we benefit from her and her team’s work.

Feature image credit: Geekwire

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How have you achieved work-life balance?