Leah Busque (above) knows a thing or two about being busy. The co-founder and executive chairwoman of TaskRabbit is one of the top execs in Silicon Valley, has a husband who's also a co-founder and CEO, and has two young children at home.
She seemingly does it all. I recently had a chance to sit down with Leah to ask her about how she manages her time, among other subjects.
How do you manage your TaskRabbit commitments, your home life, and your various other business interests?
Leah Busque: There are a bunch of calendar apps and other technology that make it easier for you to organize your life, but how you use whatever tool you use is the most important thing.
Personally, I found switching to an offline calendar was most helpful, because it forces me to be rigorous about writing things down. I use the offline calendar, and color-code tasks to make things work.
I use green for internal meetings, yellow for board and investor commitments, blue for external and adviser-type commitments, and purple for family and kids.
On any given day, I can have multiple colors on the calendar, but really looking at it visually helps you notice patterns about your life and how you spend your time. On any given day, there might be an imbalance, but over the course of a month, I try to balance things out.
Why did you do this?
LB: I started getting pulled in a bunch of different directions, and everything felt important. As a working mom, everyone wants to talk about work-life balance, but I just decided to redefine what it means for me.
I really needed to see everything to hold myself accountable--oftentimes, busy execs only include their work commitments in their calendars. You have to see the full picture.
I want to be able to look back on any given week and feel happy about how I spent my time.
Any other work-life balance thoughts?
LB: I have family dinner every night at 6 p.m., which means I am at home at 5:30. I try not to use the phone when I'm spending time with my children--that's before 8 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You have to have firm boundaries to manage it all.
You can't do it all, and one thing we don't do is cook every night. We use Munchery, which has a lot of great options for kids.
You recently made the transition from CEO to executive chairwoman. What has that been like?
LB: The hardest part about being CEO is that it's lonely at the top. You can have a sounding board, and people you talk to, but no one is in it like you are. The hardest part about a transition is having someone you trust, but Stayce [Stacy Brown-Philpot, the current CEO] and I developed that trust--we built up a strong relationship over the course of three and a half years and I trust her implicitly.
I am spending time with companies I am advising and investing in new areas that I am interested in. I love to work on problems that haven't been solved before--investing and advising have kept me in the thick of the latest trends.
Are there any other CEOs you respect that you'd mention by name?
LB: Stayce, obviously, Katrina Lake (Stitch Fix), and Tri Tran over at Munchery. There are numerous others as well, but these are just a few of the great people that come to mind.
What other commitments are important to you?
LB: I am on the board of Sweet Briar College, a women's college in Virginia. It's one of only two fully accredited engineering programs in the country devoted to women. It's addressing the challenges in promoting diversity in tech and preparing women for tech.