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Lean In: Sheena Paul

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Sheena Paul shares career updates since her 2018 cover story and how she’s balancing productivity and rest during COVID-19.

Photo courtesy of Sheena Paul

This month, like countless other small businesses and local companies, Austin Woman was faced with the financial ripples of COVID-19. A May issue was no longer a guarantee—without some help. Our founder, Melinda Garvey, turned to the women who have always been our loudest and best cheerleaders: our former cover women. She asked if they would lean in and support us, so in turn we can continue to support all Austin women. The responses were immediate and humbling.

Sheena Paul, chief operating officer at World Class Holdings and a 2018 cover woman, was one of the many women who leaned in. We’re so grateful for her support and we hope as she supported us, you will support her. We asked Paul what she’s been doing since her cover story and how she’s balancing productivity and rest during COVID-19.

Sheena Paul - Lean In - Austin Woman Magazine

Austin Woman: In your 2018 cover story, you offered several productivity tips, ending with the advice, “Sometimes when you are trying so hard to be productive, the thing you need most is a break.” As everyone is balancing the tension of having more time to “take advantage of ” and feeling overwhelmed by an unprecedented crisis, how have you fought against the urge to be productive and how do you give yourself grace in this department?

Sheena Paul: Without the typical structures we are accustomed to having in place to tell us when to take a break, it is easy for the days, nights and weekends to start to blur together, with no boundaries and the need to feel productive creeping into all hours every day. The home has become our workplace and vice versa.

I have found that putting work (laptops, notepads, etc.) out of sight when I’m not working, and thereby creating separate areas and times for work and for relaxation, really helps to counteract that blur and to create balance. I also burn a certain candle scent during work time, and another candle scent in the evening.

I’ve also been attempting to maintain balance and prevent burnout by taking time to plan, prepare and eat meals. Not only does cooking engage and distract your mind, providing a mental break from work and the constant current of news, but it feeds the productivity urge in a healthy way! It has been a lot of fun to learn cooking skills that can be used even after this time with family and friends. Some of my favorite recipe sites include: smittenkitchen.com, sallysbakingaddiction.com and ambitiouskitchen.com. And, of course, all things Alice Waters.

AW: One of your other productivity tips was making a priority list each evening and each Sunday. What does your priority list look like now?

SP: I still keep my normal priority list, but I recently found this great daily checklist for helping keep balance during this time. It’s been a tremendously helpful daily practice and I have it posted on our fridge to keep it front and center!

Daily #StayHome Checklist

1. What am I grateful for today?

2. Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?

3. What expectation of “normal” am I letting go of today?

4. How am I getting outside today?

5. How am I moving my body today?

6. What am I enjoying today?

AW: How can Austinites support you and the women in your community right now?

SP: This is a particularly hard time for so many people. We can all support each other first and foremost by doing our part to slow and stop the spread of the virus. I think we can also help each other through kindness, empathy and connection—and by reminding each other that we are truly together in this. On a practical level, I’d love to see Austinites supporting our local economy when the time comes, especially women-owned businesses, to help each other push through the economic challenges created by this pandemic.


WHAT’S BEEN ON YOUR READING LIST OR NETFLIX QUEUE DURING QUARANTINE?

My favorite book so far has been The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey, and I’ve also been listening to the Super Soul Sunday podcast. Oprah’s way of connecting with others through these conversations is like a hearty dose of the social connection we are all missing!


Read more stories of our former cover women who joined our Lean In campaign.


READ MORE FROM THE MAY ISSUE

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