The second part of our conversation got even jucier, as we talked about time management during the pandemic and beyond, and how Caterina Kostula has arrived at a beautifully simple process for having a daily presence on LinkedIn.
Maya: Could you tell us a little more about how you manage your time and if you have an equivalent of golden hours? I would love to hear about how you planned the process of writing your book and executing it and how easy or hard you found it, and if you had to work through any struggles around this?
Caterina: I signed my book contract in the beginning of lockdown, and I remember thinking how am I going to write a book with the kids at home and no nanny. However, this was a blessing, because from 6am-9am I would have my golden hours to write the book, and then from 9am I would look after the kids when my husband would start work. Even since finishing the book, I still wake up at this time, so this has become a gift to me to do strategic/deep work during these hours. I also have two meeting free days (Monday and Wednesday), so I have a very segmented schedule where I coach Thursday and Friday and on Tuesday, I have other meetings, so that's another way I protect that deep work time.
Maya: Have you modified that at all? For example, did you carry on waking up early through the winter?
Caterina: Yes, I do wake up early and that is protected time. The last couple of months I found that I was in reactive mode, because I was collaborating with people to launch my website and developing the course. I lost my strategic time a little bit throughout the day, and I got a little addicted to that responding in real time, because I wanted everything to be ready in time for the book release.
Maya: I want to ask you about your LinkedIn. When we launched the interview session on your book, I think you had about a 100 people turnout, just through the LinkedIn event alone, and you have many thousands of followers. I have researched the topic of social media and our wellbeing, so first of all, did you build that following gradually or overnight, and do you make time to strategically engage with your network? Or do you find that a distraction, or constructive?
Caterina: Both! The follower count jumped overnight, because I had an article go a little bit viral when I left Google. My hypothesis is that LinkedIn loves tears - the article that went viral was very emotional. I don’t know whether it was because of the tears or Google, and then last week I posted my book unboxing, and there were some tears there and this video also went crazy! I also send out connection requests on LinkedIn, so it happens gradually from my side and then through virality too.
Maya: It would be great to hear your process with LinkedIn?
Caterina: I write an article/newsletter every two weeks that I send to my email list, and then I have an assistant to take that article, create 4 social media posts. Monday and Wednesday will be a piece of this newsletter, then Tuesday will be a piece of an old article I wrote, Thursday will be a video clip (because I tried to film every single speech I gave) and Friday will be a post to promote my mailing list and my newsletter. I love this because all I have to do is email my list every two weeks, and I have a daily presence on my LinkedIn.
Maya: Is LinkedIn your main platform?
Maya: It's great to hear that you have been consistent over the years and it has taken you time to arrive at this process which works for you now. I think sometimes we just see the neat finish, but it can take years to evolve into this. Final question for you… you mentioned your executive assistant. This is on my mind right now, and I am curious at what stage in your journey you took on this executive assistant, and how helpful that has been for you?
Caterina: I hired the person who helps with my social media before I left Google, because I was a blogger then. Then we stopped working together, and it was only this year that I experimented with other assistants, and at first I didn't get it right, because there has to be a chemistry and a certain type of skill set. However, now my assistant is brilliant and we offer a great service to my clients.
Maya: It sounds like you have a great process on social media and support system. Do you find that having to interact with social media, and that you have now cultivated an audience taxing at all on your wellbeing?
Caterina: I was always afraid of bad comments but actually my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I have clients who are worried about the same and the trolls but that has never been my experience. In 5 years of consistent blogging, I think I have only ever had 1 bad comment and who cares?! You find your tribe, so this criticism is not an issue, and I am preparing myself for criticism on the book. I do take the time to personally respond to comments. You need to just be aware of the distraction. After 8pm I try to limit my mobile phone use and on the weekends too. I am not perfect however, so I am working on doing this. I have had a very positive experience on social media, because I have found my tribe and it has helped me get my message out there!