Behind the Scenes with Sarah Sinclair

‘Santa Barbara Independent’ Advertising Director Shares Time-Saving Hacks and Productivity Tips

Paul Wellman

Everyone finds it interesting to see how others “run” their lives and manage their time and what tools and hacks they use. Every so often I meet people whose lives seem so busy and yet so organized that I am fascinated to learn how they manage their time. This interview is with just such a person: Sarah Sinclair, advertising director at the Santa Barbara Independent.

They always say that if you need something done, ask a busy person. Sarah not only runs the advertising team at the Independent but also writes a weekly column in the Indy real estate section, serves on four nonprofit boards, has an active social life, and still manages to get to the beach nearly every day.

I first met Sarah years ago when we were working on a similar project. I instantly adored her: She wears gorgeous jewelry, has a smile that lights up the room, and is as positive a person as you’ll find anywhere. Even with her huge role at the Indy, she keeps that smile on her face. I see her at events, in the news, and on social media, and she has numerous responsibilities, so I thought she’d be a great person to run my five Qs by and see what she had to say … So let’s take a peek behind Sarah’s scenes:

(1) How do you define a successful day? A successful day is one in which I accomplish steps toward my long-term goals. That day may not look the way I thought it was going to when it started out, but at the end of the day, if I know that if I have made strides toward the big picture, then I feel good. Also, I run a lot of projects with many moving parts, and knowing where each project stands, while always having fun and connecting to the right people, defines success for me within my day.

(2) What is your #1 time-saving hack? The short answer: making phone calls while I walk to or from work. The longer answer: always working. I know that sounds weird, but I just never turn my work brain off. The lines between my work life and social life have become very blurred in the four and a half years that I’ve been at the Independent. I love what I do so much that I’m always working. But I’m always happy about it.

(3) Name something you do now that you wish you had started earlier in your career? Ask more questions, say yes more, take more chances … be a little crazy.

(4) If you had more white space in your day, how would you spend that time? I would spend more time with my colleagues: asking them how they’re doing, comparing successes and challenges, sharing more, and learning from one another more.

(5) How do you go to the beach (metaphorically) within your day? I get to the beach literally almost every day. But to achieve that “toes in the sand” feeling when I can’t get to the beach, I go for a walk — our office is right around the corner from the courthouse, so if I’ve got 10 minutes to spare, I’ll go up the tower for the view. It’s the perfect distance for a “walking meeting” with one or two coworkers. If I can’t spare 10 minutes, I look out the window and/or breathe a few deep breaths.

(6) Bonus Question: What is your ultimate productivity tool that you cannot live without? My iPhone. I speak into my phone and use that dictation for notes of all sorts. Without this tool, I would waste so much time … this saves me!


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