By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

“How I Work” is one of my favorite features in Inc Magazine (similar to Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series).  For a few years now we’ve had our own series with amazing featured guests.

Every Thursday, we feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering  “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m excited to feature Lauren Brousell, senior content & programs manager for Brainshark.  She cut her teeth previously (sorry, pun intended) at companies such as EMC, IDG and NBC.  She also interned for the New England Patriots and covered sports for her college newspaper.

Here, in her own words, is how she gets stuff done.

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts.

Number of unread emails right now? Three.

First app checked in the morning? Depends on the day – sometimes I check my push notifications, sometimes the weather, a lot of the time Instagram…I like the never-ending scroll because then I don’t have to get out of bed.

First thing you do when you come into work? Literally? Put my lunch in the fridge and make a cup of tea. But also, check my email and look at my calendar and to-do list for the day. (I also read the New York Times Morning Briefing.)

What is your email management strategy? I keep messages unread when there is something I need to think about carefully. I also try to get to ‘inbox zero’ as often as possible – too many unread emails bug me. If there is something that needs an immediate response, I’ll respond but if an email is not time sensitive and it’s going to take significant time to get an answer, I’ll leave it unread until I have time.

Most essential app when traveling? Google Maps and the airline app for whatever airline you’re flying. You’ve got to have that mobile boarding pass!

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? Minimize or close windows on my computer that I don’t need, like Twitter or anything with a news feed that could be distracting. Sometimes I listen to the Brain Food or Deep Focus playlists on Spotify if there’s too much chatter around.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? Compartmentalize work and life in a way that works for you. It’s not great if work spills over too much into life or vice versa.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success? When I have heavy duty writing to do, I like to block off my calendar and book myself a conference room to eliminate distractions. I also transcribe my interviews and print out my notes and use an old-fashioned highlighter to organize my thoughts and pick out the best quotes.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? The Apple Podcast app – I’m obsessed with podcasts and I listen to them in the car, at the gym and everywhere in between. I listen to everything from pop culture and sports to true crime and politics. Also, Gmail, because I use it to stay in touch with family and friends, keep to-do lists and save articles I want to read later.

What’s your workspace like? I have a standing desk that I should probably use more. I usually only have paper on my desk if there’s something I need to reference or something I’m currently working on – otherwise I like a clean desk because it helps me think straight. My cube walls are covered in pictures of my family and friends and places I’ve traveled to. I’m also proud to say that I have a plant on my desk that’s still alive after 2 years.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Get small, easy tasks out of the way first so you can completely focus on more challenging, time-consuming tasks.

What are you currently reading? I just finished a suspense book called The Good Girl. Similar to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train – female protagonist and nothing is as it seems.

Last thing you do before leaving work? Always see if there are any emails or action items that need to be taken care and make a to-do list for the next day.

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? The editors I worked with at my previous job at CIO magazine taught me everything about writing, editing, accuracy, how to develop a thick skin and how to act like an expert when you know nothing about a topic.

Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? My family and my husband. They’re always there to give me career advice and help me through challenging situations. My dad has a background in journalism and writing so he can relate to many of the things I do. My mom recruits HR executives and worked in HR for many years so she can always give me direction in terms of career paths and how to be savvy.

What’s the best advice you¹ve ever received? Pay it forward. Especially in a career context, it’s so important to help other people. For example, I always volunteer to speak to recent grads from my college or people looking to make a career change into my field. There are some great people who helped me along the way and I don’t know where I’d be without them!

Name a guilty pleasure TV show. Most of the Real Housewives shows – I’m not ashamed!

Anything else you want to add? Thanks for nominating me for this!

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see Sarah Pekala, Senior Marketing Manager at BevSpot answer these questions.

Accepting nominations for this series.