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Mia Freedman on how she overcomes procrastination, her daily rituals for keeping mentally fit, and why her productivity peaks after 9pm

Mia Freedman is the co-founder and creative director of the Mamamia Women’s Network, Australia’s largest digital women’s media company. They reach 4 million women per month and also have the world’s largest women’s podcast network, with eight shows that reach millions of women.

As many Australian listeners would know, Mia was the youngest editor of Australian Cosmo at 24 years old back in the mid 90s. And because I was one of many loyal Cosmo readers as a teenager, I feel like I grew up with Mia. I’ve also lapped all of her books and I just love how she speaks so honestly and is such a raw way about her life.

I found it fascinating to sit down with Mia and learn more about how she structures her days and the routines that she has. I particularly loved hearing about her methods for overcoming procrastination, which I think every listener can benefit from.

We covered a whole range of topics in our chat, including:

  • How Mia carves out time to write books

  • Why Mia hates long deadlines

  • Mia’s daily rituals to stay on top of her mental health

  • Why Mia has stopped reaching for her phone first thing in the morning

  • Mia’s favourite podcasts

  • Why Mia’s productivity peaks after 9pm

  • Why Mia is spending less time on Facebook

  • How Mia is rethinking her inbox

  • How Mia reduces the amount of decisions she needs to make

  • Mia’s top parenting hacks

  • How Mia re-energises herself during the workday

And a whole lot more.

If you want to learn more about Mia, you can find her at www.miafreedman.com or via www.ladystartup.com.au which is her brand new project that includes an Online Bootcamp will help you activate your business idea in just 6 weeks.

And here are some of the things Mia referred to during our chat:

Want to get in touch? Reach out at amantha@inventium.com.au

For a full transcript of the episode, see below:

 

Mia Freedman: I'm one of those people that needs to do it, needs hard and fast rules. Otherwise I find myself negotiating with myself, and that's exhausting.

 

Amantha Imber: Welcome to How I Work, a show about the tactics used by leading innovators to get so much out of their day. I'm your host, Dr. Amantha Imber. I'm an organizational psychologist, the CEO of Inventium, and I'm obsessed with finding ways to optimize my work day. My guest today is Mia Freedman, the co-founder and creative director of the Mamma Mia Women's Network, Australia's largest digital women's media company. They reach four million women every month, and also have the world's largest women's podcast network with eight shows that reach millions of women.

As many Australian listeners would know, Mia was the youngest editor of Australian Cosmo at just 24 years of age back in the mid-90s. Because I was one of many loyal Cosmo readers as a teenager, I feel like I kind of grew up with Mia. I've also lapped up all of her books, and I just love how she speaks so honestly and in just such a raw way about her life. I personally found it fascinating to sit down with Mia and learn more about how she structures her days and the routines that she has. I particularly loved hearing about her methods for overcoming procrastination, which I think every listener can benefit from.
If you wanna learn more about Mia, you can find her at MiaFreedman.com, M-I-A-F-R-E-E-D-M-A-N.com, or via LadyStartUp.com.au, which is her brand new project that includes an online bootcamp that will help you activate your business idea in just six weeks. Over to Mia to find out about how she works.
So Mia, it's so good to be sitting down and chatting with you.
 

Mia Freedman: Thanks for having me.
 

Amantha Imber: I would love to start by you thinking about the last day that you had where you got to the end of it and you're like, "Oh my goodness, I got so much done today." Can you think of a day like that?"
 

Mia Freedman: Maybe in the '90s. One of the exhilarating but exhausting things about working in digital media is that you are never done. With digital media, both as a consumer and as a creator, you never get to the end of scrolling through your Facebook feed. You never look at all the pages on the internet and read all the articles and watch all the videos and listen to all the podcasts that you wanna listen to. As a creator, you never finish creating all the content.
If I could sort of stretch time, there are a thousand things I'd like to do and complete today which I won't. I guess all I can ever see is all the things that I didn't get to do each day. So I think that that's something that is a little bit rare in my world and certainly when you're running a business, there's always more to do.
 

Amantha Imber: There absolutely is.
 

Mia Freedman: There's always more to do. So that feeling of sort of, so, you know, "Wow, I had a great day," I often have a great day, but "I got so much to do today," I don't, that's not a feeling I'm familiar with.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah, yeah. I'm curious how that works. 'Cause you're wearing a lot of different hats here. You're a business owner, you are the content director of Mamma Mia, you're a writer, you're a podcaster. I'm curious, like you're balancing, I guess, a lot of creative work with also just trying to make a business run with 100 people in it. I'm really curious with your creative work, and particularly when you've got a book on the go, and I loved Work Strife Balance.
 

Mia Freedman: Oh, thank you.
 

Amantha Imber: I loved all your books.
 

Mia Freedman: That at least had an end.
 

Amantha Imber: Yes. Books are like that, aren't they, yes.
 

Mia Freedman: Pressing send to my publisher, that was probably the last time I felt complete. But then you know there are gonna be corrections and then you've got to be out there spruiking it. So even that wasn't finished, but at least I did get a finished book that sort of landed at one point.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah, yeah. I'd love for you to go back in time to when you were writing that book, and plus wearing all these other hats. Like, how does that work? How do you carve out writing time? What does that look like in your world?
 

Mia Freedman: You carve, literally you carve time out from people and things in your life, and they all suffer. To write a book, you know, there are some people that can take time from their day job, there are some people that it is their day job. But for most of us we write it around the edges of our lives.
 

Amantha Imber: So then when you're sitting at your laptop to write, like, how do you get in the zone as quickly as possible? Can you describe, like what does that look like when you sit down to write?
 

Mia Freedman: Great question. So what it looks like at first is downloading a lot of productivity apps. Then there's making sure you've got everything backed up. Then there's buying a lot of Post-It notes. So basically, I did what I always do and a lot of people who are procrastinators do which is convince yourself that doing all of that stuff is the same as actually writing the book. But actually it's just delaying the writing of the book.
So I love writing, but I hate starting. I love all the projects that I do, but I don't like starting many of them. I don't even like starting podcast interviews very much. My favorite part is when I'm a little bit, as an interviewer, when I'm a little bit through it. Like, about 15 minutes in and I'm like, "Okay, good, right. We're there." I find starting things very, very difficult. Yeah.
 

Amantha Imber: So how do you do that? Do you remember how you did end up starting Work Strife Balance?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah. I think, and the advice that I always give writers and anyone creative is that you just got to do the thing. Like, downloading the apps is not doing the thing, you know? Setting up a vision board and setting up your desk or your workspace, that's not doing the thing. Now, for creative people and for writers, that is an important part of it because it gives you thinking time.
My friend Caroline Overington who's a journalist and an author and she's written, I don't know, 15 books while having at least one or two day jobs as a journalist, she has a Monday and she writes every Monday. She starts in the morning and she used to start when her kids go to school and she used to finish when they would come home from school. She was very disciplined about it. But she was always just like, "You just gotta do the thing." You can't be precious, you've got to not let perfectionism be the enemy of done. I always also say to writers, put some words on a page. Put some words on a page.
But back to Caroline, she would say that unstacking the dishwasher for a writer is an important part of writing, because it's when ... we have so little time to think anymore because every little gap that we used to have to think we now fill with our phones and distraction. So sometimes doing menial things whether it's buying the Post-It notes or unstacking the dishwasher, there's an aspect of procrastination to that but there's also an aspect of thinking time that's really, really important so that when you do come down to actually doing the writing you've already done some of the thinking.
I think that in our modern lifestyles, we've lost that ability. But I'm always very much of a view that you can edit words on a page but you can't edit nothing. So just vomit onto a page. Just vomit onto the page. Elizabeth Gilbert, who is a wonderful writer and author, she says that ... the way she describes it is that you have to just accept that it's not going to be perfect and you've got to ... you know, it's a lovely time when you're just imagining the perfect book you're going to write. Then you've actually got to write the book. It's never gonna be as good as you imagine that it's gonna be, and you've got to be okay with that.
 

Amantha Imber: That's interesting. With the getting the word vomit onto the screen, like, what does that look like? Do you lock yourself away and go, "Okay, I'm here for an hour, I'm gonna crank out this many words," like do you have a goal in mind? How do you get rid of all the digital distractions? What does that look like?
 

Mia Freedman: I wish I could say I did. I think that sometimes I have to sneak up on myself to write. So I think that by going, "Oh, I've only got 15 minutes before I have to be at work," or go out to dinner, or whatever it is. You just go, "I'll just quickly write it." Then it doesn't feel so daunting. I think that a big mistake that people make is going, "I'm going to write every day for eight hours." You know, Elizabeth Gilbert says, "You shouldn't be writing for more than a couple of hours every day." Now, some people don't have that luxury like my friend Caroline. She had a day a week to write, and she had to write in that day. Sometimes it would be a good day and sometimes it would be not a good day. But that's all she had.
So it's, creativity is what you wanna say in the time you have to say it. That's crucial, because had I had more time I could've written a better book. But I didn't have more time, that was the time that I had. I think that one of the hardest things about writing a book is long deadlines. For me, I'm very bad with long deadlines. I'm better with shorter deadlines. I'm working on a new project at the moment at Mamma Mia called Lady StartUp where I'm putting together courses for women who either are running their own businesses or wanna be running their own businesses.
Because I've only got a self imposed deadline, I don't have an external deadline of a publisher or a newspaper deadline or anything like that, it's on me. So I'm finding that really hard to motivate myself to get it done.
 

Amantha Imber: Do you have, almost like daily habits? I've heard that you love a good ritual and routine.
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, I do, I do.
 

Amantha Imber: What are some of the things that you do, maybe on a daily or weekly basis that you feel just help you get through the day better, achieve more, and overcome some of the hurdles like starting things and hitting, like internally driven deadlines?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, yeah. So a lot of it, for me, is just about making sure I'm ... my mental health is good and that I'm in a good frame of mind. So I need tea almost as soon as I wake up. My husband brings me tea and I drink that. I used to, like most people, just reach for my phone. I'm finding a bit of an intuitive desire not to do that anymore. I'm finding that filling my brain, particularly since I veer towards news about American politics, I'm finding that I just, to start my day pissed of with Donald Trump is not very good for my mental health.
So I'm sort of looking at ... every so often, and it doesn't happen often, I can feel a habit shifting. I can feel a habit shifting, I don't know what's going to replace that grabbing my phone, something has to. But at the moment I still do look at my phone, have my tea, and then I have to exercise. That's the first thing that I have to do, I have to go for ... I've got a treadmill at home and an elliptical trainer and I exercise on those for about, minimum half an hour a day. If it's a good day I've got 40 minutes to spare.
Then I will, either my husband or I will take the kids to school. I'll listen to podcasts while I'm getting ready. My kids are old enough to get themselves ready and get themselves up in the morning, so all of that's great. So I'll listen to podcasts, and then I will drive them to school, listen to more podcasts on the way into the office, and then I'll come in and I'm kind of a little bit at the behest of the schedule of my work and the schedule of other people. So we've got certain management meetings that we have each week. You know, whips that we have on a regular basis. I've got ... I host three podcasts, so ... and we make from those four podcasts a week. So I've got to record four podcast episodes every week.
So recently I was feeling pretty burnt out, 'cause we just had a run of doing a whole heap of podcast interviews for No Filter in a row. I was like, my head's about to fly off. 'Cause I love podcasting, but being in the studio, where we are now, for too long can do your head in a little bit. It's also intense. You know, sitting down and having an intense conversation, particularly with No Filter, and there's a lot of pressure on me to get that story out. In many cases, the story's really emotional, like it'll be someone's life story or something that's happened to them and you know, I've got to hold it together in there. It's not like I come out and burst into tears, but I will feel drained because I'm so present for that hour or so that we spend together that that can drain my energy.
Then you know, sometimes I'll leave ... you usually I haven't been able to pick up the kids after school, but I'm usually in the office 'til 5:00 or so and then go home. Spend time with the family, have dinner. At the moment I'm now getting back on my computer and working again. I've sort of given up on trying to make progress with Lady StartUp too much during a work day, 'cause I'm kind of here for everyone else and I have to be, that's kind of my job. But then when I go home, there are less distractions. So between about nine o'clock after the kids are in bed, and 11:30, that's when I'll try to make some forward progress.
That is the most satisfied I feel, probably at about 11:30 at night when I haven't had those distractions. I can't get up and make myself 100 cups of tea or wander over to someone's desk and talk to them or reply to an email or in Slack channel, and I just tick things off.
 

Amantha Imber: I wanna come back to what you were saying about your phone in the morning and you've realized that you're starting to break that habit of the phone being the first thing that you go to and then getting depressed by what's going on in America, as I think a lot of us are. Was that a conscious decision to break that habit or have you just found things are changing?
 

Mia Freedman: No, I'm very, if I have one superpower it's that I really follow my intuition and my curiosity and I just, I guess I follow my gut. It is what caused me to start Mamma Mia in the first place, it's what caused me to start our podcast network, it's what caused me to start Lady StartUp as kind of new platform and a new movement for us.
So I just generally find myself doing things, and I'm always, I guess the writer in me is always standing outside and observing a little bit. So I'm just becoming aware that I don't think it's normal for us as humans to sort of open our eyes and be bombarded by a thousand pieces of information. It's too much. I also just find that you wake up and everyone in the family's on their phones and no one's even going, "Hi, good morning. How are you?" So yeah, I'm making more of a conscious effort to sort of talk to my kids and not just sort of bury myself in the work.
I've just noticed, interestingly, I'm kind of starting to resist it in the same way that I notice myself moving off Facebook a year ago. Didn't wanna look at Facebook anymore. What's that about? That's interesting. So I thought, "Oh."
 

Amantha Imber: What are your go to sites or sources of content? Like if you could only have, let's say, a handful in a day, where would you go?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah. Well, I do genuinely go to Mamma Mia because I'm not involved so much in the website anymore. We've got a team of content creators. I find that they do, I'm a consumer now, of Mamma Mia, as a woman who wants a thin slice of everything that's going on from pop culture to politics. I find that Mamma Mia packages that still better than anyone. I can say that because it's not my responsibility anymore in terms of I don't do that day to do. So Mamma Mia would be my go to.
Then of course I'm super interested, as I said, in US politics. So I look at the New York Times, I subscribe to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Then a lot of podcasts. You know, I find that I'm more and more looking towards podcasts for all kinds of information. I subscribe to some EDMs, some daily newsletters as well. I'm finding that what's most interesting to me about my change of behavior is where I don't go, which is Facebook.
I haven't gone to Facebook for about two years. I don't mean I've never visited Facebook for two years, because groups is something that's certainly been more active and more growing. But I found that Facebook was just ... it felt like walking into a casino in terms of being assaulted, my eyes, my ears, my senses. I didn't know what I was gonna get. I'm starting to return to homepages, now, much, much, more than I ever did. I'm not relying on Mark Zuckerberg to decide what I wanna see every day, because what the hell does he know? So I'm going back to my trusted brands, New York Times, Mamma Mia, Washington Post, to see what they have curated for me, and some of my email newsletters as well.
 

Amantha Imber: Okay, cool. We might come back to some of your favorites towards the end of the interview. I'm curious about email as well, I know you use Slack here for internal messaging, is that right?
 

Mia Freedman: We do, yeah.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah. But you're still gonna get emails from the outside world. What is your approach to managing your inbox?
 

Mia Freedman: It's terrible, because I've read recently that email is someone else's to do list for you.
 

Amantha Imber: Oh, that's so true.
 

Mia Freedman: It's true, it's like, this person wants an answer on this. This person wants to invite you to this, this person wants you to read this. It's like, none of that is what I plan to do that. I just, I'm sort of cogitating on that at the moment, and I'm looking at my email in a different way. Because I think that what we've confused ... we've confused immediate with important, so that everything that comes to the top of our email box we think we've got to deal with that, because it's interrupted that. Just 'cause someone's interrupted, I mean, any mother will tell you this, any parent. Just 'cause someone interrupts you does not mean that they've got the most important thing to say.
I'm really aware that you spend your whole day reacting to what other people want rather than saying, you know, I wish I was disciplined enough to say, "I look at my emails for 20 minutes once a day," or twice a day, but no, I'm the same as anyone else. I just check, check, check, check, check. But yeah, a girlfriend of mine, I was trying to encourage her to subscribe to a newsletter that I'd just subscribed to. She said, "No, I'm pretty protective of my inbox, I'm not going to subscribe to that." I thought, "Wow, that's a really interesting way of look at it," that your inbox is like, the time that you have to spend and you should be careful of who you allow to come into it. I thought, that's very interesting.
 

Amantha Imber: That's so true what you said about email being just other people's priorities. I'm curious, because you must get so many requests on your time. Like, obviously you've got 100 staff here, but all of the, everyone else in the whole wide world wanting a piece of you. How do you decide what you say yes to and what you say no to?
 

Mia Freedman: What a good question. I'm very good at saying no. I used to-
 

Amantha Imber: Were you always good at saying no?
 

Mia Freedman: No, I used to be very bad at it. Like most women, I wanted people to like me and I wanted to not disappoint anybody. So what I would do is because I would not wanna have ... I would not want to make someone feel bad for the 10 seconds that it would take them to read that I was turning down whatever they wanted me to do, I would say okay just to put that off. But then what I would do is buy a whole problem for future me, which was, "Ugh, I promised to go to Brisbane or do this, or go somewhere after work," and then that time would come around and I would really, really, really not want to do it. It would really, you know, take a toll on me, on my family, or whatever it is.
What I found really helped is having rules and not saying, "I can't," but saying, "I don't." So it sounds really subtle, but it's really relevant. So like, I have a thing, I don't do black tie functions. So I don't do balls, I don't do dinners, I don't do, you know, I don't do lunches. I don't do lunches during the week. What else? I don't do premiers. I don't do speaking engagements or charity things on weekends.
So once you have those don'ts, it takes the, "Should I, should I not," and that's even, I find that those kind of hard and fast rules help so much in all aspects of life. So I exercise every day because that's easier than exercising two or three times a week. It's less mental stress on me because it's just a non-negotiable. It's like cleaning your teeth.
Imagine if you went, "You only have to clean your teeth two or three days a week." Then every night you'd go, "Should it be tonight, oh, I don't know, but then tomorrow night I'm going to be tired 'cause I've got to go to that thing." And, "I don't know." But instead you just do it every, you know, that part of your brain doesn't have to think, "Should I brush my teeth tonight or not?" Because you brush your teeth every day. Same with having a shower. Same with any habit that you have.
I'm one of those people that needs to do it, needs hard and fast rules. Otherwise I find myself negotiating with myself, and that's exhausting. So Obama, when he was in office, wore the same, he had 10 versions of the same blue suit and he wore it every day. 'Cause he said that's one less decision I have to make every day, and it frees up my mind to make other decisions.
 

Amantha Imber: Absolutely, decision fatigue is such a big thing. If we can reduce the decisions that we're making then we're gonna make better quality decisions.
 

Mia Freedman: Absolutely.
 

Amantha Imber: It's interesting what you say about don't and can't, I read some research about that recently where they had a group of people that said, "I can't eat unhealthy food," for example, and then there was another group that said, "I don't eat unhealthy food." In this experiment, they were then offered a snack if they were leaving. One was healthy, one was unhealthy. Those that said, "I don't eat unhealthy food," just even to themselves, were 50% more likely to get the healthy snack. So it's such a-
 

Mia Freedman: And people won't argue with you. When you say, "I don't, I'm so sorry, I don't do lunches." Then that's very clear. It's like, "I can't have lunch on Tuesday." "What about Wednesday? Ah, what about," you know, and it's like, how about never? Is never good for you? It's a clear line in the sand, and the other thing I do is that I'm just very honest. So I say, "Thanks so much for the invitation, but the demands of running a business and having a young family means that I just can't do anything except those two things." And no one, what I find, people are incredibly appreciative if you respond quickly.
What most people do is go, "Oh, I don't wanna disappoint them, so I will, we'll just ignore that." They don't mind a no, I mean, they'd prefer a yes, but they'll deal with a no. But it's always, "Thank you so much for getting back to me quickly." At least I know I can move on now. No one can argue, when you say work and family, no one can go, "Aw, but please."
But I was listening to an interview with Oprah, actually, on Gwyneth Paltrow's podcast, GOOP. Oprah was talking about saying no and she said, you know, "People will become insistent, and," she said, "First they'll say to you, 'Oh, but it's for the children.'" She's like, "Well, don't try to manipulate me." Then she said finally she'll just say, "Are you not hearing my no?" And I was like, "Ooh, that's interesting."
I don't tend to find that, I tend to find people are pretty respectful and generally just like an answer. But I say yes to a lot as well. But I have to be conscious that my time and my energy is a finite resource and who and what are my priorities?
 

Amantha Imber: Absolutely. Obviously parenting changing everything, you've got three kids. I think your youngest is nine, is that right?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, he is.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah, what are your tips for parents, particularly working parents? What are your best time hacks?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah. Make them do as much for themselves as possible. So my kids all make their own lunches. I can't be bothered, and also it's good for them to learn that, right? It's good for them to learn that, and my parenting philosophy very much ties in with me being lazy. So the less I have to do, the better. What I always say my one piece of advice is, lower your standards for yourself and raise your standards for other people around you in your life.
I think that's such a thing for women, because we always feel like, "Oh, I have to do everything," and the studies show that the women who work full time tend to do more house work because they feel guilty. So it's like, just lower your standards for yourself, whether it's the less tidy house, not making every soccer game. You know, having your kids eat baked beans out of a can sometimes. It's all okay.
You know, I think that this idea that being a good parent means always putting your children first, I say bullocks to that. I think it's such a trap. Because that's not a standard that we put out there for men, it's a standard that we only have out there for mothers. I feel that as an employer of a lot of millennials and post-millennials, every time you put your ... I don't mean when they really need you, like if they're bleeding or if they're like, distressed or you know, or three years old. I'm not talking about that. But I'm talking about all the times that society tells us that we should drop everything and put our children's needs above our own and above everyone else's.
As an employer of a lot of young people I would say you are doing a disservice to your child's future employer if you teach them that they are the center of every universe every minute of the day. There are times when they need to know, you know what? Mom can't come to see you in your ballet concert because she's got to take Auntie Jane to chemo, or she's gotta go for a run because it helps her feel positive about the day, or she has to work late because she's got to work late. Her boss asked her to work late.
So that idea of you are not always gonna be on the top of everybody's pile is a crucial lesson for kids to learn. Like, it's a crucial lesson. I think the pendulum swung so far, our parents were very free range. I was raised by boomers, and I think boomers were pretty free range in their parenting which was just kind of, you know, go out and play until it gets dark and then come inside. Then our generation, Xs, we kind of were the first generation to treat parent as a verb. You know, to parent. I think there's a happy medium in there somewhere, and that's what I would encourage people to try to find. You know, promoting resilience in your children by making them as self sufficient as possible.
 

Amantha Imber: Yes, good advice, good advice. One other thing I wanted to ask about before we sort of move on to some rapid fire questions to finish it off. Is your approach to taking breaks, like during the day, I've heard that you're not, so you said, you don't do lunches. I hear that loud and clear. So what do you do to re-energize during the day?
 

Mia Freedman: I drink a lot of tea. I ... that's a really good question. I have gone through phases, I've been in sort of open ... we have an open plan office and because our space is limited, my husband and I used to have offices and then we gave them up because we needed more meeting rooms. I've just commandeered one again, because I've found that being in open plan is a big drain of my energy. I think a lot of people find that in open plan offices, and I'm lucky enough that I'm the boss and I can go and go, "I'm gonna take back this office now."
But what do I do to re-energize? Oh, I don't know. I find that consuming content re-energizes me. Just like the mental break of getting up and going and making a cup of tea, like I always make my own ... you know, I've got an assistant but she very, very, very rarely makes me a cup of tea. I always do that myself because I find that that's a bit of a mental break. Tea and a wee. Combine the two, it's efficient.
 

Amantha Imber: That's a great motto for a break.
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, exactly.
 

Amantha Imber: Love it, love it. I'd love to finish off with some rapid fire questions, you mentioned that you've got some go to podcasts and newsletters that you subscribe to. I want to drill into like, what are your favorite ones? Because I think it can be really overwhelming for people. There's so much out there and it's really interesting to know what do people like yourself consume? So podcasts, what are your go to podcasts right now?
 

Mia Freedman: I listen a lot to a podcast called Pod Save America, which is about Trump. So I'm gonna be a little bit Trump heavy. I find The Daily by the New York Times a really great podcast, although I haven't been listening to it so much for the last couple of weeks. There's an interview podcast called Fresh Air that is on NPR, and it's hosted and has been for many, many years by a wonderful woman called Terry Gross. Her interviews are just so interesting. So, so interesting. Just the way she does interviews. So I listen, I really like all of those podcasts.
 

Amantha Imber: Fantastic. What about any newsletters? What are the ones that you look forward to actually receiving?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, well there's one from CNN called Reliable Sources by Brian Stelter. It's about the media. I get that every day, and I love that. That's what I really look forward to reading. I consume Mamma Mia a lot by our EDMs, we do a morning and an evening one. I really enjoy that, because it's a good, thin slice. I mean, we create about 40 pieces of content a day, but we have about 10 in each of those newsletters. It's a good way to sort of thin slice what's going on, even if you just skim the headlines.
 

Amantha Imber: Excellent. Finally, books. What is a good book that you have read in recent months?
 

Mia Freedman: I'd really recommend Sheryl Sandberg's most recent book. It came out about a year ago, so it's not that recent, but my goodness it's brilliant. It's called Option B, and I was such a fan of Lean In. I still recommend Lean In, I think it's a fantastic book. But Option B is the book that she wrote a couple of years ago after her husband died very unexpectedly, and it's that idea of sometimes option A is not available to you. So you got to kick the shit out of option B. That's not just about losing someone to death, it could be losing your job, it could be losing a pregnancy, losing a relationship. It's really all about coping after something happens to you in that sense.
A bit of a companion book that I've been reading that's gonna be out later in this year, I think October the first, is Leigh Sales' new book called Any Ordinary Day. It is about, it's a series of interviews that she's done with people who have been essentially blindsided by tragedy. You know, a crime or a sudden death of someone they love or someone who was in the Lindt Cafe siege. It's about, the name of the book refers to the fact that they all woke up and thought that it was just an ordinary day, and it was an absolutely extraordinary day that would change the course of their life forever. It's about what happens the day after the worst day of your life.
It's, she's such a wonderful writer, Leigh, which is something that a lot of people might not know about her if they know her as host of 7:30 and the formidable political interviewer that she is. But it sounds like it's a horrific thing to write about, but she's got a lovely, chatty, engaging style that she brings to it. It's just, yeah, it's a wonderful read, so those two as companion pieces are my recommendation.
 

Amantha Imber: Awesome. Thank you so much, Mia. It's been so nice talking to you.
 

Mia Freedman: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
 

Amantha Imber: Hey there, that's it for today's episode. If you liked it there are plenty of others that you might also enjoy, such as my chat with Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of Wordpress, where we talk about how he organizes his phone to create healthy habits, and my conversation with Adam Grant where we talk about the two things he does at the start of every week to make sure he stays on track with what really matters.
Finally, it's great getting feedback from listeners such as yourself, so feel free to give this podcast a review in iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like this episode, make sure you hit the subscribe button so you can be alerted when new episodes are released. See you next time.

For a full transcript of the episode, see below:

Mia Freedman: I'm one of those people that needs to do it, needs hard and fast rules. Otherwise I find myself negotiating with myself, and that's exhausting.

Amantha Imber: Welcome to How I Work, a show about the tactics used by leading innovators to get so much out of their day. I'm your host, Dr. Amantha Imber. I'm an organizational psychologist, the CEO of Inventium, and I'm obsessed with finding ways to optimize my work day. My guest today is Mia Freedman, the co-founder and creative director of the Mamma Mia Women's Network, Australia's largest digital women's media company. They reach four million women every month, and also have the world's largest women's podcast network with eight shows that reach millions of women.

As many Australian listeners would know, Mia was the youngest editor of Australian Cosmo at just 24 years of age back in the mid-90s. Because I was one of many loyal Cosmo readers as a teenager, I feel like I kind of grew up with Mia. I've also lapped up all of her books, and I just love how she speaks so honestly and in just such a raw way about her life. I personally found it fascinating to sit down with Mia and learn more about how she structures her days and the routines that she has. I particularly loved hearing about her methods for overcoming procrastination, which I think every listener can benefit from.
If you wanna learn more about Mia, you can find her at MiaFreedman.com, M-I-A-F-R-E-E-D-M-A-N.com, or via LadyStartUp.com.au, which is her brand new project that includes an online bootcamp that will help you activate your business idea in just six weeks. Over to Mia to find out about how she works.
So Mia, it's so good to be sitting down and chatting with you.
 

Mia Freedman: Thanks for having me.
 

Amantha Imber: I would love to start by you thinking about the last day that you had where you got to the end of it and you're like, "Oh my goodness, I got so much done today." Can you think of a day like that?"
 

Mia Freedman: Maybe in the '90s. One of the exhilarating but exhausting things about working in digital media is that you are never done. With digital media, both as a consumer and as a creator, you never get to the end of scrolling through your Facebook feed. You never look at all the pages on the internet and read all the articles and watch all the videos and listen to all the podcasts that you wanna listen to. As a creator, you never finish creating all the content.
If I could sort of stretch time, there are a thousand things I'd like to do and complete today which I won't. I guess all I can ever see is all the things that I didn't get to do each day. So I think that that's something that is a little bit rare in my world and certainly when you're running a business, there's always more to do.
 

Amantha Imber: There absolutely is.
 

Mia Freedman: There's always more to do. So that feeling of sort of, so, you know, "Wow, I had a great day," I often have a great day, but "I got so much to do today," I don't, that's not a feeling I'm familiar with.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah, yeah. I'm curious how that works. 'Cause you're wearing a lot of different hats here. You're a business owner, you are the content director of Mamma Mia, you're a writer, you're a podcaster. I'm curious, like you're balancing, I guess, a lot of creative work with also just trying to make a business run with 100 people in it. I'm really curious with your creative work, and particularly when you've got a book on the go, and I loved Work Strife Balance.
 

Mia Freedman: Oh, thank you.
 

Amantha Imber: I loved all your books.
 

Mia Freedman: That at least had an end.
 

Amantha Imber: Yes. Books are like that, aren't they, yes.
 

Mia Freedman: Pressing send to my publisher, that was probably the last time I felt complete. But then you know there are gonna be corrections and then you've got to be out there spruiking it. So even that wasn't finished, but at least I did get a finished book that sort of landed at one point.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah, yeah. I'd love for you to go back in time to when you were writing that book, and plus wearing all these other hats. Like, how does that work? How do you carve out writing time? What does that look like in your world?
 

Mia Freedman: You carve, literally you carve time out from people and things in your life, and they all suffer. To write a book, you know, there are some people that can take time from their day job, there are some people that it is their day job. But for most of us we write it around the edges of our lives.
 

Amantha Imber: So then when you're sitting at your laptop to write, like, how do you get in the zone as quickly as possible? Can you describe, like what does that look like when you sit down to write?
 

Mia Freedman: Great question. So what it looks like at first is downloading a lot of productivity apps. Then there's making sure you've got everything backed up. Then there's buying a lot of Post-It notes. So basically, I did what I always do and a lot of people who are procrastinators do which is convince yourself that doing all of that stuff is the same as actually writing the book. But actually it's just delaying the writing of the book.
So I love writing, but I hate starting. I love all the projects that I do, but I don't like starting many of them. I don't even like starting podcast interviews very much. My favorite part is when I'm a little bit, as an interviewer, when I'm a little bit through it. Like, about 15 minutes in and I'm like, "Okay, good, right. We're there." I find starting things very, very difficult. Yeah.
 

Amantha Imber: So how do you do that? Do you remember how you did end up starting Work Strife Balance?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah. I think, and the advice that I always give writers and anyone creative is that you just got to do the thing. Like, downloading the apps is not doing the thing, you know? Setting up a vision board and setting up your desk or your workspace, that's not doing the thing. Now, for creative people and for writers, that is an important part of it because it gives you thinking time.
My friend Caroline Overington who's a journalist and an author and she's written, I don't know, 15 books while having at least one or two day jobs as a journalist, she has a Monday and she writes every Monday. She starts in the morning and she used to start when her kids go to school and she used to finish when they would come home from school. She was very disciplined about it. But she was always just like, "You just gotta do the thing." You can't be precious, you've got to not let perfectionism be the enemy of done. I always also say to writers, put some words on a page. Put some words on a page.
But back to Caroline, she would say that unstacking the dishwasher for a writer is an important part of writing, because it's when ... we have so little time to think anymore because every little gap that we used to have to think we now fill with our phones and distraction. So sometimes doing menial things whether it's buying the Post-It notes or unstacking the dishwasher, there's an aspect of procrastination to that but there's also an aspect of thinking time that's really, really important so that when you do come down to actually doing the writing you've already done some of the thinking.
I think that in our modern lifestyles, we've lost that ability. But I'm always very much of a view that you can edit words on a page but you can't edit nothing. So just vomit onto a page. Just vomit onto the page. Elizabeth Gilbert, who is a wonderful writer and author, she says that ... the way she describes it is that you have to just accept that it's not going to be perfect and you've got to ... you know, it's a lovely time when you're just imagining the perfect book you're going to write. Then you've actually got to write the book. It's never gonna be as good as you imagine that it's gonna be, and you've got to be okay with that.
 

Amantha Imber: That's interesting. With the getting the word vomit onto the screen, like, what does that look like? Do you lock yourself away and go, "Okay, I'm here for an hour, I'm gonna crank out this many words," like do you have a goal in mind? How do you get rid of all the digital distractions? What does that look like?
 

Mia Freedman: I wish I could say I did. I think that sometimes I have to sneak up on myself to write. So I think that by going, "Oh, I've only got 15 minutes before I have to be at work," or go out to dinner, or whatever it is. You just go, "I'll just quickly write it." Then it doesn't feel so daunting. I think that a big mistake that people make is going, "I'm going to write every day for eight hours." You know, Elizabeth Gilbert says, "You shouldn't be writing for more than a couple of hours every day." Now, some people don't have that luxury like my friend Caroline. She had a day a week to write, and she had to write in that day. Sometimes it would be a good day and sometimes it would be not a good day. But that's all she had.
So it's, creativity is what you wanna say in the time you have to say it. That's crucial, because had I had more time I could've written a better book. But I didn't have more time, that was the time that I had. I think that one of the hardest things about writing a book is long deadlines. For me, I'm very bad with long deadlines. I'm better with shorter deadlines. I'm working on a new project at the moment at Mamma Mia called Lady StartUp where I'm putting together courses for women who either are running their own businesses or wanna be running their own businesses.
Because I've only got a self imposed deadline, I don't have an external deadline of a publisher or a newspaper deadline or anything like that, it's on me. So I'm finding that really hard to motivate myself to get it done.
 

Amantha Imber: Do you have, almost like daily habits? I've heard that you love a good ritual and routine.
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, I do, I do.
 

Amantha Imber: What are some of the things that you do, maybe on a daily or weekly basis that you feel just help you get through the day better, achieve more, and overcome some of the hurdles like starting things and hitting, like internally driven deadlines?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, yeah. So a lot of it, for me, is just about making sure I'm ... my mental health is good and that I'm in a good frame of mind. So I need tea almost as soon as I wake up. My husband brings me tea and I drink that. I used to, like most people, just reach for my phone. I'm finding a bit of an intuitive desire not to do that anymore. I'm finding that filling my brain, particularly since I veer towards news about American politics, I'm finding that I just, to start my day pissed of with Donald Trump is not very good for my mental health.
So I'm sort of looking at ... every so often, and it doesn't happen often, I can feel a habit shifting. I can feel a habit shifting, I don't know what's going to replace that grabbing my phone, something has to. But at the moment I still do look at my phone, have my tea, and then I have to exercise. That's the first thing that I have to do, I have to go for ... I've got a treadmill at home and an elliptical trainer and I exercise on those for about, minimum half an hour a day. If it's a good day I've got 40 minutes to spare.
Then I will, either my husband or I will take the kids to school. I'll listen to podcasts while I'm getting ready. My kids are old enough to get themselves ready and get themselves up in the morning, so all of that's great. So I'll listen to podcasts, and then I will drive them to school, listen to more podcasts on the way into the office, and then I'll come in and I'm kind of a little bit at the behest of the schedule of my work and the schedule of other people. So we've got certain management meetings that we have each week. You know, whips that we have on a regular basis. I've got ... I host three podcasts, so ... and we make from those four podcasts a week. So I've got to record four podcast episodes every week.
So recently I was feeling pretty burnt out, 'cause we just had a run of doing a whole heap of podcast interviews for No Filter in a row. I was like, my head's about to fly off. 'Cause I love podcasting, but being in the studio, where we are now, for too long can do your head in a little bit. It's also intense. You know, sitting down and having an intense conversation, particularly with No Filter, and there's a lot of pressure on me to get that story out. In many cases, the story's really emotional, like it'll be someone's life story or something that's happened to them and you know, I've got to hold it together in there. It's not like I come out and burst into tears, but I will feel drained because I'm so present for that hour or so that we spend together that that can drain my energy.
Then you know, sometimes I'll leave ... you usually I haven't been able to pick up the kids after school, but I'm usually in the office 'til 5:00 or so and then go home. Spend time with the family, have dinner. At the moment I'm now getting back on my computer and working again. I've sort of given up on trying to make progress with Lady StartUp too much during a work day, 'cause I'm kind of here for everyone else and I have to be, that's kind of my job. But then when I go home, there are less distractions. So between about nine o'clock after the kids are in bed, and 11:30, that's when I'll try to make some forward progress.
That is the most satisfied I feel, probably at about 11:30 at night when I haven't had those distractions. I can't get up and make myself 100 cups of tea or wander over to someone's desk and talk to them or reply to an email or in Slack channel, and I just tick things off.
 

Amantha Imber: I wanna come back to what you were saying about your phone in the morning and you've realized that you're starting to break that habit of the phone being the first thing that you go to and then getting depressed by what's going on in America, as I think a lot of us are. Was that a conscious decision to break that habit or have you just found things are changing?
 

Mia Freedman: No, I'm very, if I have one superpower it's that I really follow my intuition and my curiosity and I just, I guess I follow my gut. It is what caused me to start Mamma Mia in the first place, it's what caused me to start our podcast network, it's what caused me to start Lady StartUp as kind of new platform and a new movement for us.
So I just generally find myself doing things, and I'm always, I guess the writer in me is always standing outside and observing a little bit. So I'm just becoming aware that I don't think it's normal for us as humans to sort of open our eyes and be bombarded by a thousand pieces of information. It's too much. I also just find that you wake up and everyone in the family's on their phones and no one's even going, "Hi, good morning. How are you?" So yeah, I'm making more of a conscious effort to sort of talk to my kids and not just sort of bury myself in the work.
I've just noticed, interestingly, I'm kind of starting to resist it in the same way that I notice myself moving off Facebook a year ago. Didn't wanna look at Facebook anymore. What's that about? That's interesting. So I thought, "Oh."
 

Amantha Imber: What are your go to sites or sources of content? Like if you could only have, let's say, a handful in a day, where would you go?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah. Well, I do genuinely go to Mamma Mia because I'm not involved so much in the website anymore. We've got a team of content creators. I find that they do, I'm a consumer now, of Mamma Mia, as a woman who wants a thin slice of everything that's going on from pop culture to politics. I find that Mamma Mia packages that still better than anyone. I can say that because it's not my responsibility anymore in terms of I don't do that day to do. So Mamma Mia would be my go to.
Then of course I'm super interested, as I said, in US politics. So I look at the New York Times, I subscribe to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Then a lot of podcasts. You know, I find that I'm more and more looking towards podcasts for all kinds of information. I subscribe to some EDMs, some daily newsletters as well. I'm finding that what's most interesting to me about my change of behavior is where I don't go, which is Facebook.
I haven't gone to Facebook for about two years. I don't mean I've never visited Facebook for two years, because groups is something that's certainly been more active and more growing. But I found that Facebook was just ... it felt like walking into a casino in terms of being assaulted, my eyes, my ears, my senses. I didn't know what I was gonna get. I'm starting to return to homepages, now, much, much, more than I ever did. I'm not relying on Mark Zuckerberg to decide what I wanna see every day, because what the hell does he know? So I'm going back to my trusted brands, New York Times, Mamma Mia, Washington Post, to see what they have curated for me, and some of my email newsletters as well.
 

Amantha Imber: Okay, cool. We might come back to some of your favorites towards the end of the interview. I'm curious about email as well, I know you use Slack here for internal messaging, is that right?
 

Mia Freedman: We do, yeah.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah. But you're still gonna get emails from the outside world. What is your approach to managing your inbox?
 

Mia Freedman: It's terrible, because I've read recently that email is someone else's to do list for you.
 

Amantha Imber: Oh, that's so true.
 

Mia Freedman: It's true, it's like, this person wants an answer on this. This person wants to invite you to this, this person wants you to read this. It's like, none of that is what I plan to do that. I just, I'm sort of cogitating on that at the moment, and I'm looking at my email in a different way. Because I think that what we've confused ... we've confused immediate with important, so that everything that comes to the top of our email box we think we've got to deal with that, because it's interrupted that. Just 'cause someone's interrupted, I mean, any mother will tell you this, any parent. Just 'cause someone interrupts you does not mean that they've got the most important thing to say.
I'm really aware that you spend your whole day reacting to what other people want rather than saying, you know, I wish I was disciplined enough to say, "I look at my emails for 20 minutes once a day," or twice a day, but no, I'm the same as anyone else. I just check, check, check, check, check. But yeah, a girlfriend of mine, I was trying to encourage her to subscribe to a newsletter that I'd just subscribed to. She said, "No, I'm pretty protective of my inbox, I'm not going to subscribe to that." I thought, "Wow, that's a really interesting way of look at it," that your inbox is like, the time that you have to spend and you should be careful of who you allow to come into it. I thought, that's very interesting.
 

Amantha Imber: That's so true what you said about email being just other people's priorities. I'm curious, because you must get so many requests on your time. Like, obviously you've got 100 staff here, but all of the, everyone else in the whole wide world wanting a piece of you. How do you decide what you say yes to and what you say no to?
 

Mia Freedman: What a good question. I'm very good at saying no. I used to-
 

Amantha Imber: Were you always good at saying no?
 

Mia Freedman: No, I used to be very bad at it. Like most women, I wanted people to like me and I wanted to not disappoint anybody. So what I would do is because I would not wanna have ... I would not want to make someone feel bad for the 10 seconds that it would take them to read that I was turning down whatever they wanted me to do, I would say okay just to put that off. But then what I would do is buy a whole problem for future me, which was, "Ugh, I promised to go to Brisbane or do this, or go somewhere after work," and then that time would come around and I would really, really, really not want to do it. It would really, you know, take a toll on me, on my family, or whatever it is.
What I found really helped is having rules and not saying, "I can't," but saying, "I don't." So it sounds really subtle, but it's really relevant. So like, I have a thing, I don't do black tie functions. So I don't do balls, I don't do dinners, I don't do, you know, I don't do lunches. I don't do lunches during the week. What else? I don't do premiers. I don't do speaking engagements or charity things on weekends.
So once you have those don'ts, it takes the, "Should I, should I not," and that's even, I find that those kind of hard and fast rules help so much in all aspects of life. So I exercise every day because that's easier than exercising two or three times a week. It's less mental stress on me because it's just a non-negotiable. It's like cleaning your teeth.
Imagine if you went, "You only have to clean your teeth two or three days a week." Then every night you'd go, "Should it be tonight, oh, I don't know, but then tomorrow night I'm going to be tired 'cause I've got to go to that thing." And, "I don't know." But instead you just do it every, you know, that part of your brain doesn't have to think, "Should I brush my teeth tonight or not?" Because you brush your teeth every day. Same with having a shower. Same with any habit that you have.
I'm one of those people that needs to do it, needs hard and fast rules. Otherwise I find myself negotiating with myself, and that's exhausting. So Obama, when he was in office, wore the same, he had 10 versions of the same blue suit and he wore it every day. 'Cause he said that's one less decision I have to make every day, and it frees up my mind to make other decisions.
 

Amantha Imber: Absolutely, decision fatigue is such a big thing. If we can reduce the decisions that we're making then we're gonna make better quality decisions.
 

Mia Freedman: Absolutely.
 

Amantha Imber: It's interesting what you say about don't and can't, I read some research about that recently where they had a group of people that said, "I can't eat unhealthy food," for example, and then there was another group that said, "I don't eat unhealthy food." In this experiment, they were then offered a snack if they were leaving. One was healthy, one was unhealthy. Those that said, "I don't eat unhealthy food," just even to themselves, were 50% more likely to get the healthy snack. So it's such a-
 

Mia Freedman: And people won't argue with you. When you say, "I don't, I'm so sorry, I don't do lunches." Then that's very clear. It's like, "I can't have lunch on Tuesday." "What about Wednesday? Ah, what about," you know, and it's like, how about never? Is never good for you? It's a clear line in the sand, and the other thing I do is that I'm just very honest. So I say, "Thanks so much for the invitation, but the demands of running a business and having a young family means that I just can't do anything except those two things." And no one, what I find, people are incredibly appreciative if you respond quickly.
What most people do is go, "Oh, I don't wanna disappoint them, so I will, we'll just ignore that." They don't mind a no, I mean, they'd prefer a yes, but they'll deal with a no. But it's always, "Thank you so much for getting back to me quickly." At least I know I can move on now. No one can argue, when you say work and family, no one can go, "Aw, but please."
But I was listening to an interview with Oprah, actually, on Gwyneth Paltrow's podcast, GOOP. Oprah was talking about saying no and she said, you know, "People will become insistent, and," she said, "First they'll say to you, 'Oh, but it's for the children.'" She's like, "Well, don't try to manipulate me." Then she said finally she'll just say, "Are you not hearing my no?" And I was like, "Ooh, that's interesting."
I don't tend to find that, I tend to find people are pretty respectful and generally just like an answer. But I say yes to a lot as well. But I have to be conscious that my time and my energy is a finite resource and who and what are my priorities?
 

Amantha Imber: Absolutely. Obviously parenting changing everything, you've got three kids. I think your youngest is nine, is that right?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, he is.
 

Amantha Imber: Yeah, what are your tips for parents, particularly working parents? What are your best time hacks?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah. Make them do as much for themselves as possible. So my kids all make their own lunches. I can't be bothered, and also it's good for them to learn that, right? It's good for them to learn that, and my parenting philosophy very much ties in with me being lazy. So the less I have to do, the better. What I always say my one piece of advice is, lower your standards for yourself and raise your standards for other people around you in your life.
I think that's such a thing for women, because we always feel like, "Oh, I have to do everything," and the studies show that the women who work full time tend to do more house work because they feel guilty. So it's like, just lower your standards for yourself, whether it's the less tidy house, not making every soccer game. You know, having your kids eat baked beans out of a can sometimes. It's all okay.
You know, I think that this idea that being a good parent means always putting your children first, I say bullocks to that. I think it's such a trap. Because that's not a standard that we put out there for men, it's a standard that we only have out there for mothers. I feel that as an employer of a lot of millennials and post-millennials, every time you put your ... I don't mean when they really need you, like if they're bleeding or if they're like, distressed or you know, or three years old. I'm not talking about that. But I'm talking about all the times that society tells us that we should drop everything and put our children's needs above our own and above everyone else's.
As an employer of a lot of young people I would say you are doing a disservice to your child's future employer if you teach them that they are the center of every universe every minute of the day. There are times when they need to know, you know what? Mom can't come to see you in your ballet concert because she's got to take Auntie Jane to chemo, or she's gotta go for a run because it helps her feel positive about the day, or she has to work late because she's got to work late. Her boss asked her to work late.
So that idea of you are not always gonna be on the top of everybody's pile is a crucial lesson for kids to learn. Like, it's a crucial lesson. I think the pendulum swung so far, our parents were very free range. I was raised by boomers, and I think boomers were pretty free range in their parenting which was just kind of, you know, go out and play until it gets dark and then come inside. Then our generation, Xs, we kind of were the first generation to treat parent as a verb. You know, to parent. I think there's a happy medium in there somewhere, and that's what I would encourage people to try to find. You know, promoting resilience in your children by making them as self sufficient as possible.
 

Amantha Imber: Yes, good advice, good advice. One other thing I wanted to ask about before we sort of move on to some rapid fire questions to finish it off. Is your approach to taking breaks, like during the day, I've heard that you're not, so you said, you don't do lunches. I hear that loud and clear. So what do you do to re-energize during the day?
 

Mia Freedman: I drink a lot of tea. I ... that's a really good question. I have gone through phases, I've been in sort of open ... we have an open plan office and because our space is limited, my husband and I used to have offices and then we gave them up because we needed more meeting rooms. I've just commandeered one again, because I've found that being in open plan is a big drain of my energy. I think a lot of people find that in open plan offices, and I'm lucky enough that I'm the boss and I can go and go, "I'm gonna take back this office now."
But what do I do to re-energize? Oh, I don't know. I find that consuming content re-energizes me. Just like the mental break of getting up and going and making a cup of tea, like I always make my own ... you know, I've got an assistant but she very, very, very rarely makes me a cup of tea. I always do that myself because I find that that's a bit of a mental break. Tea and a wee. Combine the two, it's efficient.
 

Amantha Imber: That's a great motto for a break.
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, exactly.
 

Amantha Imber: Love it, love it. I'd love to finish off with some rapid fire questions, you mentioned that you've got some go to podcasts and newsletters that you subscribe to. I want to drill into like, what are your favorite ones? Because I think it can be really overwhelming for people. There's so much out there and it's really interesting to know what do people like yourself consume? So podcasts, what are your go to podcasts right now?
 

Mia Freedman: I listen a lot to a podcast called Pod Save America, which is about Trump. So I'm gonna be a little bit Trump heavy. I find The Daily by the New York Times a really great podcast, although I haven't been listening to it so much for the last couple of weeks. There's an interview podcast called Fresh Air that is on NPR, and it's hosted and has been for many, many years by a wonderful woman called Terry Gross. Her interviews are just so interesting. So, so interesting. Just the way she does interviews. So I listen, I really like all of those podcasts.
 

Amantha Imber: Fantastic. What about any newsletters? What are the ones that you look forward to actually receiving?
 

Mia Freedman: Yeah, well there's one from CNN called Reliable Sources by Brian Stelter. It's about the media. I get that every day, and I love that. That's what I really look forward to reading. I consume Mamma Mia a lot by our EDMs, we do a morning and an evening one. I really enjoy that, because it's a good, thin slice. I mean, we create about 40 pieces of content a day, but we have about 10 in each of those newsletters. It's a good way to sort of thin slice what's going on, even if you just skim the headlines.
 

Amantha Imber: Excellent. Finally, books. What is a good book that you have read in recent months?
 

Mia Freedman: I'd really recommend Sheryl Sandberg's most recent book. It came out about a year ago, so it's not that recent, but my goodness it's brilliant. It's called Option B, and I was such a fan of Lean In. I still recommend Lean In, I think it's a fantastic book. But Option B is the book that she wrote a couple of years ago after her husband died very unexpectedly, and it's that idea of sometimes option A is not available to you. So you got to kick the shit out of option B. That's not just about losing someone to death, it could be losing your job, it could be losing a pregnancy, losing a relationship. It's really all about coping after something happens to you in that sense.
A bit of a companion book that I've been reading that's gonna be out later in this year, I think October the first, is Leigh Sales' new book called Any Ordinary Day. It is about, it's a series of interviews that she's done with people who have been essentially blindsided by tragedy. You know, a crime or a sudden death of someone they love or someone who was in the Lindt Cafe siege. It's about, the name of the book refers to the fact that they all woke up and thought that it was just an ordinary day, and it was an absolutely extraordinary day that would change the course of their life forever. It's about what happens the day after the worst day of your life.
It's, she's such a wonderful writer, Leigh, which is something that a lot of people might not know about her if they know her as host of 7:30 and the formidable political interviewer that she is. But it sounds like it's a horrific thing to write about, but she's got a lovely, chatty, engaging style that she brings to it. It's just, yeah, it's a wonderful read, so those two as companion pieces are my recommendation.
 

Amantha Imber: Awesome. Thank you so much, Mia. It's been so nice talking to you.
 

Mia Freedman: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
 

Amantha Imber: Hey there, that's it for today's episode. If you liked it there are plenty of others that you might also enjoy, such as my chat with Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of Wordpress, where we talk about how he organizes his phone to create healthy habits, and my conversation with Adam Grant where we talk about the two things he does at the start of every week to make sure he stays on track with what really matters.
Finally, it's great getting feedback from listeners such as yourself, so feel free to give this podcast a review in iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like this episode, make sure you hit the subscribe button so you can be alerted when new episodes are released. See you next time.

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