Anna Dearmon Kornick: ‘Spend What Matters Most on What Matters Most’

Anna Deamon Kornick headshot clockwise

In the world of fast money and immediate news, with the harrowing internet always waiting around the corner to surprise us yet again, it is abundantly clear how valuable every second of our lives can be. No one wants to be the guy showing up late to the meeting, but honestly, how could the guy even show up to the meeting, ready to crush the day, without stopping for his cherished morning coffee? Time brings us routinely, and we are scattered and flustered without time. Any experienced broker can tell you about the difference three minutes can make in the stock market. So, as every other conceptually crippling idea of time and its essence settles in on you, we’d like to introduce our new favorite superhero, Anna Dearmon Kornick.

Anna is a new-age “She-ro” saving the whole world, one second at a… time. Okay, we may be exaggerating a bit, but she does have a great handle on her time management skills, to the point in fact that she has developed an avid career around helping other people manage their time as well. The appointed Head of Community at Clockwise, a very handy smart-scheduling calendar app, has also developed a following of listeners on her podcast, “It’s About Time!” which you can go listen to now online. However, leading her clients as a time-management coach was not always her career, and the road on which Anna traveled was not without its stressors.

Chaos Leads to Order

The time management maestro began her professional career as a scheduler for a Congressman in Washington D.C. She fielded many meetings, calls, invitations, events, outings, and more for some of the most influential people in our country, which did not come without its sense of reward. However, while in the DMV area, it’s not as easy to find the same type of gumbo and crawfish on which she was raised. Étouffée is not readily available on U-Street in D.C., so Anna decided it was time she headed back home to Louisiana. She began ten years of a career in Crisis Communications & Government Affairs. If that sounds heavy, it’s because it is. When it comes time for humans to answer the beckoning call in big-time situations, that’s where people like Anna Dearmon Kornick come in. Anna is experienced in stiff-arming the paparazzi to help high-profile individuals maintain their safety and privacy. She has responded to crises surrounding oil spills, power plant explosions, natural disasters, non-profit embezzlement schemes, you name it, and the list will continue. These experiences have made her a very strong woman, but she realized that they didn’t always make her a happy woman.

We may have all had a similar moment to hers, in which we found ourselves desperate for change. Anna’s breaking point arrived when she cried in the stairwell some days before working inside a bleak office. A bleak, windowless office. Sometimes, even after the great debate, it can prove more valuable to walk away from a miserable work experience than to continue trying to change the outcome. Anna became tired of missing out on life, her friend’s baby showers, family members’ birthdays, and real experiences, so again, she took control of her life and asked herself, “What makes me happy? What matters the most to me?” It became increasingly apparent to the young motivator that her real passions were time management, communications, and the art of “creating order out of crisis.” This sharp turn in her life came with both a reward and a lesson to be learned. Anna was experiencing burnout, which is in no way uncommon to the entrepreneurial and business worlds.

Anna Deamon Kornick headshot clockwise
Head of Community at Clockwise, Anna Dearmon Kornick / Photo courtesy of Anna Dearmon Kornick

Truly Burnt Out

Unfortunately, burnout is quite common in all levels and fields of work. We as humans can tend to slow down and cause our work ethic to be hindered when we aren’t feeling fully stimulated or appreciated in our work. Burnout can cause the best employees to act in the worst of ways and can even negatively affect aspiring entrepreneurs, especially in the startup stages of business. Many experienced, high-performing professionals have had to redirect their passions due to burnout in the early stages of business development. Burnout has even been linked to pathological and neurological health conditions, including insomnia, depression, substance abuse, coronary heart disease, etc.

Because of this looming cloud that many people experience, it’s increasingly important to once again stop and ask ourselves, “What makes me happy? What matters the most to me?” Unfortunately, we don’t always see it coming, but burnout can be predicted and avoided under the right circumstances. You want to avidly choose to be a part of a company that doesn’t promote the burnout of its employees. By doing what you love and focusing your career in a direction that aligns with your core principles, we are reminded of the long-standing life hack, how to “never work a day in your life.” On the reverse side of that concept, you can always sense when you are no longer fully passionate about what you are doing. If it’s time to move forward, then it’s time, and you should always embrace that as positively and compassionately as possible. You never want to work for a company that burns you out, and in the same light, you must allow that same expectation to foster when starting and running your own business.

As Kornick put it, “As an entrepreneur, typically, you start your business because there is something that you are passionate about, and you want to do that thing. You want to grow it, scale it, and make a huge impact through this channel that you’re passionate about. So, you work, work, work, work, work, and you say yes to everything because you’re not sure where the next opportunity is going to come from. And all work and no play make all of us exhausted people.”

It can be easy to become burnt out regarding your passions. In the world of entrepreneurism, as many of us have seen, the going gets rough. Sales performance is not always at a peak, and maybe the market isn’t always going to play in our favor. It is entirely up to ourselves, however, to allow ourselves to be reinvigorated by the familiarity of our passions. Always allow yourself to remember the reasons you are passionate about your niche. Try and remind yourself that no one in the world can do the things you do, quite the way you do them. Whether you need to repeat that motivational quote you heard, envision the goals you have lined up for yourself, or even just hold onto a sweet note from your grandmother that gives you positive energy, keep it at the forefront of your focus. Embody a lifestyle that promotes a positive mindset, and remember that you are entirely capable of everything you choose to manifest. Make it a habit to think positively and progressively.

Manifest, Then Rest

Once you understand how to master the mindset (although the real deed will take some time) and you can recharge your work ethic, it’s equally as important to remember to rest. You need to prioritize your rest periods the same way you do a work shift. A commonly known fact about Jeff Bezos is that he purposefully and happily gets eight hours of sleep every night because of its benefits for his mind’s decision-making abilities. Many successful thinkers, writers, and entrepreneurs encourage a huge focus on resting; for example, Bill Gates is known to have taken many a “think-week” time away from the offices of Microsoft to allow his busy mind time to clear out and think naturally.

As entrepreneurs, it’s vital that you lay some boundaries for yourself and really understand your goals, or else you’ll always be chasing your tail upstream without a paddle. Know your plan and define what the word “enough” means to you. Maybe it’s a revenue or profit goal, or even a hiring goal or some other type of milestone. What milestones are you hoping to have reached by a certain age? Take the time to answer all these questions for your life. Don’t be modest, be honest and even a little bit bold. Are you the type of person who wants to be retired at 38 years old? What sort of ideas do you have for plans in your 60s? After answering these questions, you then need to lay out your work plan to get to those goals in the set number of years you have left to do so. Once you know your plan, remember to stop, and prioritize your resting periods there.

Zoom In. Way In. Further.

When planning out the roadmap to the rest of your life, it can seem a little bit like a pipedream to ask ourselves what we’ll be doing at 65-70 years old, especially when many of us are still in our twenties trying to figure out how to schedule dentist appointments for ourselves. However, leading a life with purpose and actively managing your time could give you more control over your whole story than you’d think. For example, imagine your ten-year goals. Write each one down separately, and under each of them, write every task that comes with fulfilling these goals. Be meticulous. We are talking about your ultimate hopes and dreams, so there is no room to be shy or half-step it.

Zoom in closer to about five years. What do you need to do in the next five years to keep yourself on track for your ten-year goals? Zoom in to three years. Can you ensure you have done your due diligence in the next three years to ensure your five-year plan is on track? It sounds relatively simple.

Keep zooming in. What do you need to get done in one year to ensure your ten-year plan is being followed? What do you need to be working on this month to get your one-year goals accomplished? Keep zooming in. Zoom in again and again until you know what to get started on today.

Eventually, you can get down to each second, and you begin to realize how valuable your time has always been. This type of thinking will lead to a more structured method of living, where even your meal breaks are being spent as valuable time, rather than just a pastime. By managing your life more concisely and efficiently, you free up extra time slots for yourself to do the things that matter.

Recharge: Rest, Relationships, and Recreation

There are not enough words to express how important it is to invest time into your relationships. Your business affairs will never be enough to replace family, friends, and loved ones, which should never be taken for granted. However, allowing yourself to manage your time with purpose can open new areas in your schedule for things like vacations, dating, outings, holidays, and other important pastimes that create cherished memories.

Anna Deamon Kornick headshot clockwise
Head of Community at Clockwise, Anna Dearmon Kornick / Photo courtesy of Anna Dearmon Kornick

Sounds Like More Play Than Work?

I know what you’re thinking. “I can rest after making enough to take care of my family and allow for extra time and money.” We are all guilty of thinking that way, especially considering we are not all in the same position as Jeff Bezos in our companies, respectively. Nevertheless, Kornick would remind you that there is almost no such thing as too much rest. Our bodies and minds need rest to replenish and to be able to continue creating.

“I think about Lin Manuel Miranda, one of the most amazing creators. He said that the best content has come to him while playing with trucks on the floor with his kids. Is your next idea as an entrepreneur waiting for you on that walk in the woods? Because if you’re not taking it, how will you have that time for your subconscious to go to work in the background? Some of the most important problems that we solve happen to be solved when we’re not directly thinking about them,” Kornick notes.

Sleep and mental health are extremely important as a high-performing career professional, and they are also directly linked to one another. Take care of your physical health as well. Your diet and overall wellness can gauge how your day-to-day activities will run. Studies have shown that your ability, or lack thereof, to maintain a healthy and balanced diet can effectively change your overall work performance. On top of that, we all like to eat well and feel good, too.

Your relationships and culture should give life through positive connections and meaningful interactions. Do not invest energy into any life-draining relationships because they cannot possibly contribute to your long-term goals. Just as you hope for people in your life to represent life-giving relationships, try to be the same type of beacon in the lives of others. There is no limit on the amount of kindness and positive energy you can give, and it always finds a way to return in some form.

Make time to do fun things for fun’s sake. Some people need to get away for the weekend and ride jet-skis or climb mountains. Others just find sanctity in a night out at their favorite wing spot. Whatever your thing is, make sure you make time to go do that thing. Take your loved ones along and prioritize the idea of creating fun, cherished memories. Play the cello and play a game of chess. Take pictures and make posts. There can never be enough of that kind of thing in our lives.

Anna Deamon Kornick headshot clockwise
Head of Community at Clockwise, Anna Dearmon Kornick / Photo courtesy of Anna Dearmon Kornick

Operate with Purpose

When the fun time is over, and you are ready to go back to work, don’t forget about the fancy new outlook on your long-term plans. Remember that every minute of every hour of every day can be spent pushing you closer to your respective dreams. It’s up to you as the facilitator of those dreams to allow yourself to remain focused and invigorated about those dreams. Do the footwork because it will be worth it in the end.

Do not leave your life up to chance. Your long-term vision will not just fall in your lap because you simply decided to show up to work every morning. You must proactively advance and manifest your goals as you show up every morning. Remember your goals when you come back from lunch and hit the ground running. Not only that, but remember who you are supposed to be showing up as that day. Maybe today, you are visionary, with long-term plans and lofty ideas. This is necessary to add a sense of longevity and true purpose to a company’s mission. Maybe, instead, today, you are showing up as the integrator. As the integrator, it’s your job to ensure that every branch interacts with the others to promote a positive, productive culture that allows for future success and open communication. Finally, you could be showing up as the technician. These are the people who get the job done. The worker-bees code the programs, write the reports, make sales calls, and run the advertisements. All three of these positions are essential to the success of a business, and somedays you may even have to wear multiple hats for the best outcome.

Operate under maybe just one of those roles per day. And when doing so, make sure to have three big, long-term goals in mind for each position while working. Take each of those long-term goals and try to find 1-3 things you could be working on today to remain on track. Tomorrow, switch to a new role and repeat the process. This way, all types of well-rounded work are getting done, but you aren’t getting burnt out by only working on one end of the business field.

Another viable option to organize a workload, especially for a startup, is to assign departmental work to yourself daily. For example, Monday can be marketing Monday! Take the time every Monday to work on reaching out to the public, running advertisements, promoting business, and attracting new clients or customers. Then on Tuesday, focus on finalizing sales, putting out orders, receiving purchases, sending orders, and customer service. When Wednesday comes around, you could focus on product development by ensuring your products or services are up-to-speed with the current market and that all your kinks are being worked out. Thursday is a great day to run client meetings and work on PR, considering it’s not too busy, but it’s also not quite Friday, so you still get a good amount of positive energy from the meetings. Finally, Friday can be all about Finance! Make sure your receipts, invoices, bills, accruals, payroll, tax receipts, etc., are all wrapped and taken care of! You never want to be behind on this type of stuff anyway, so allotting specific periods for it can ensure you never let it lapse.

Pseudo-structure is the key to success as a self-starter in the modern world. There is no one sitting around telling you to go out and be successful, so it is up to the individual to ensure their route is mapped safely and efficiently to ensure the most successful plan. Another very important factor to remember is your genius zone. You must be willing to determine what you are truly passionate about and then also take the time to figure out what you are extremely proficient at doing. Once you figure out where your passions and skills can intersect, you have found your vocation. The stroke of genius that you feel when doing the things that make you feel most alive? That’s the feeling you must chase as a successful business owner in the modern world. We as humans operate entirely off emotions, specifically passion and compassion. Utilizing this understanding will help you immensely when venturing into the real world. If there are pieces of your business or work that don’t spark that passionate genius inside you, consider delegating or even automating it to save yourself from spending negative energy.

Let Your Mind Heal

Are humans getting too much rest during the past couple of years, staying at home throughout multiple years of issues with the pandemic? I believe many humans would even say that our downtime has become more enjoyable, considering a lot of us have reinvested into our hobbies or maybe even spruced up the home theater to make life in the shack more enjoyable. It’s safe to say that the pandemic has changed a lot of people’s perspectives about their work. Many of us ask ourselves very important questions, like “Does the work I do matter?” “Is this the story I want to tell with my work?” This is another reason it’s important that your work aligns with your core values. When your work genuinely makes you happy and feels like you make a difference in the world, you are always going to want to go back. So, again “What makes me happy? What matters the most to me?” “How will I make an impact, and why?”

Sometimes, the tasks can seem mundane. There have been instances in our lives when we wondered if we’d ever feel like we were fit a true purpose in the world? Being honest with yourself is the first step to solving this issue. When you keep your long-term goals in mind, it reminds you at every second why your short-term goals are equally as important. Every strategy session, sales call, extensive research and marketing, supply ordering, and even scheduling meetings will feel like you are chipping away at the larger block. Live with purpose, be conscious of how much time you have, and learn to make time for what matters most. Forget all the other stuff.

Cover photo courtesy of Anna Dearmon Kornick.

View this article in the February 2022 issue of MP: Day 1.