Christian Young is a Senior Manager in Advisory Services at EY. Christian has worked at EY for over 15 years teaming across organizations to implement sustainable initiatives that address complex business issues and achieve transformational goals.
Here is what Christian had to say when we asked her about productivity and prioritization:
GenHERation®: How do you define productivity and how has this definition changed throughout your career?
Christian Young: Productivity is a buzzword that’s defined by how many hours you put in or how many widgets you have made. Earlier on in my career, I made to-do lists and thought I was productive if I crossed off every item on those lists. I felt awful if I didn’t accomplish everything. After a while, I realized that you can never fully cross everything off a list—there is always more to do! Now, when I think about productivity, I think about how I feel at the end of the day. If I feel balanced or content, or feel that I put in my best effort and got something accomplished then I was productive.
GenHERation®: When thinking about your productivity goals, what are the first steps you should take to get started?
Young: Initially, make sure you are starting from a place where you aren’t dependent on others’ expectations. As a young professional, this can be difficult. You’re required to complete tasks and projects by certain deadlines, and your schedule is determined by your manager. While you should fulfill your job requirements, take the time to self-define productivity. Ask yourself what being productive means to you and do your best to honor this definition. Then, try embracing these practices to achieve your goals: One, focus! Commit to a single task before moving on to another. Give yourself deadlines and set boundaries to stay motivated. Two, take breaks. If you are trying to finish a task, you might think stepping away from it is counterintuitive, but the opposite is true. When you take short breaks, you boost your concentration, performance, and creativity. Three, be realistic. Understand that there are only so many hours in a day. Sometimes you can only accomplish so much and that’s okay. Give yourself grace. You don’t have to burn out to be productive.
GenHERation®: What are three ways to become more organized in your personal and professional life?
Young: First, understand how you work. To me, organized is having a wall of Post-its with different sections. I like that view. Structure your work patterns in accordance with how you like to work. Some people can’t work with a lot on their desk, while others think clutter breeds inspiration. Second, being organized doesn’t mean you have a list for everything. Sometimes it’s being aware of everything that’s going on or having a direction. Third, ask yourself about the end goal. You can have a great plan and be organized, but why? We tend to burden ourselves with extra work and go through the motions without taking a step back to focus on intent.
GenHERation®: How can you best prioritize your life?
Young: You can’t give every hour of every day to other people. You need to make time for yourself—whether it’s to connect with your family and friends, exercise, or relax. To be successful in your professional career, you have to take care of your personal self. Understand what boundaries you need to set to make this happen. Communicate these boundaries to others and stand by them.
GenHERation®: How can you schedule your day to maximize productivity and promote balance?
Young: My personal experience is that I let my intense focus on trying to run the world and achieve everything put me in the hospital. That was a big wake-up call. You have to “walk the walk” for how you want to live your life. There’s not always going to be perfect balance. Sometimes work will be more and other times life will be more. You have to set boundaries. Intentionally block off your lunch hour. Don’t take calls after 11 PM. Most importantly, don’t break the boundaries you set up. Once you take the phone call on vacation, people will think it’s always okay to call you on vacation. You asking for time or taking the time to care for yourself does not make you weak or a bad worker. It’s you being an advocate for yourself.
GenHERation®: Have you had a mentor that helped you learn about prioritization?
Young: I think if you feel like you are overworking yourself it is helpful to have someone to talk to. A peer or someone above you. It was difficult in my career early on to master prioritization because everyone at my job was Type A and trying to work as many hours as they could. Eventually, I took observations and found who was living a more balanced lifestyle. I reached out to them and asked for advice. Then, these people started to watch out for me. They tapped me on the shoulder when I needed to take breaks and shared resources.
GenHERation®: What is the most important lesson you have learned throughout your career journey?
Young: I wish I would have known how important it is to ask for help. I thought you could just put your head down and power through it. I learned more the last year of my career than I did in the first 10 years because I was more open and reached out. If you are riding too close to the sun you can’t always tell it is really bright. Find those villages of people and tap into their advice.
Christian Young is a Senior Manager in Advisory Services at EY. Christian has worked at EY for over 15 years teaming across organizations to implement sustainable initiatives that address complex business issues and achieve transformational goals. She has expertise in strategic planning and initiatives, leadership support, diversity, equity & inclusion, and public speaking. Christian believes there is always a bright side and path worth taking. Outside of EY, Christian volunteers within the Chicago community.