I’m Karen Doster, and this is how I get things done.

Nov 3, 2015 11:52:30 AM

Karen Doster, cove's DC city manager

Going from a large consulting firm to a small startup company can be a drastic change, and it tests the way you get productive. Karen Doster, DC city manager for cove, says that she is most productive in ‘environments with deadlines,’ which there is no shortage of in her position. After working at Penn Schoen Berland as a project manager for 2 years, Karen made the switch to cove, a DC-based startup that was just hitting its first year of existence when she joined the team. As a company all about productivity, Karen has some light to shed on how she gets things done.

About Karen

Karen grew up in Basking Ridge, NJ, and went to Dartmouth College, where she received a Bachelor’s in Government. Shortly after college she moved to DC to take a position as a project manager for Penn Schoen Berland, where she worked for two years before transitioning to cove as the city manager. Karen lives in the Logan Circle neighborhood of NW DC, is an avid runner, and has an extreme love for One Direction. More on that later.

How she gets things done

When asked what her ‘productive style’ is, Karen says, “Listening to music.” As you may have guessed by now, she loves music and is a big concert-goer.

“I am most productive when I can listen to my music,” she said. She clarified that she doesn’t want to listen to other people’s music, which is why she prefers to work out of cove rather than a coffee shop. 

There are a number of tools, devices, and apps Karen can’t live without. For work, besides the regular items we all find ourselves needing—phone, laptop, email— she uses NimbleSchedule for scheduling her large team; Zendesk and Zopim for customer service management; Trello to manage her to-do list (read our post on the pros and cons of Trello vs. Asana); and Slack for a messaging system with colleagues.

“I have to admit there are a high number of One Direction gifs littering my team’s Slack channel,” Karen said. “They made me make a separate channel for it, of which I am the sole member.”

A day in the life

Everyone has a different method to his/her madness. A productive day in the life of Karen Doster includes opening a cove location and immediately clearing her inbox.

“I get so many emails every day that I feel best when I start my day by getting through them all. It helps me to focus on other things when I start with a clean inbox,” she said.

Her next step is to check in with her team, whether that be in person or on a video chat.

“Since I’m in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly, I like to do a quick check-in with my team to make sure all of our locations are open and operating, and everyone knows what’s going on during the day. As a startup, we move very quickly so I like to know we all start our day on the same page.”

Karen Doster leading a team training

The rest of her day varies and can include checking out a new potential cove location, putting out fires, providing guidance and support on marketing and operations, and hopefully fitting in a run before heading to bed around midnight.

“It’s a stressful but high impact job, and it’s amazing how much I can accomplish in one day when I put my mind to it,” she said.

The secret to her productivity?

“Going offline. I will close my email and messaging apps at certain parts of the day so there are no distractions.”

Let’s get personal

Here are some fun facts about Karen: 

  • She loves concerts. Especially boy bands. Especially One Direction, ICYMI.
  • She’s heavily involved in the Dartmouth College Fund.
  • She probably can keep Sweetgreen in business on her own.
Three things on Karen’s bucket list are:
  1. Backpack through Europe
  2. Meet One Direction
  3. Co-write a cookbook with her colleague, entitled “Chicken Tender is the Night”

Another unique thing about Karen is her excitement over a cat app on her phone. Yes, you read that right: a cat app.

“It’s a Japanese app, called Neko Atsume,” she said. “You have cats, and you feed them and buy them toys. Then they bring you fish, and you try to meet all the cats. It’s like Tamagotchi.” Apparently it’s quite a hit, as it is rated 4.5 stars with almost 70,000 votes. 

Neko Atsume

Want to reach out to Karen? Email her at karen@cove.is, or pop into your neighborhood cove!

This post is part of our series ‘How I Get Things Done.' We're always interested in hearing the best ways on how to get things done. Interested in hearing from someone in particular? Think you have a good story to share? Let us know, and we’ll reach out.

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Erin Gifford

Written by Erin Gifford

Erin started with cove in January 2014 and has been enjoying the adventure ever since. Outside of her role as marketing director with cove, she loves the performing arts, memoirs, and UNC.