Laura Raicovich: ‘I’m Being More Strategic With My Yeses’

The Queens Museum president on preventing burnout.

Credit: Michael Angelo

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Laura Raicovich: I sit up and take three slow, deep breaths. It isn’t a big effort but it reminds me to breathe all day.

TG: What gives you energy?
LR: Meeting with brilliant artists who suggest new ways to see and experience the world. And playing tennis.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
LR: Sleep. As much as possible. I find that I have some of my best ideas just before I wake up.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
LR: After my last email and social media checks of the day, I turn the brightness way down and read a novel on my phone before bed. Once I start reading, there is no more email or posting, just relaxing. Sometimes I read a real book, but I can’t do that with the lights off.

TG: How do you deal with email?
LR: I try to only respond to emails that are actually to me (not ones I’m CC’d on) and if an email conversation starts to get too complex, I get on the phone or visit a colleague’s desk. I also try not to respond to every email immediately — sometimes that just generates more email. Another strategy: I set aside two hours per week as dedicated email time, as a safety net to respond to the emails that may have gotten buried while I was at meetings during the week. I do this on Friday afternoons so I can go into the weekend knowing I have responded or have a specific to-do list for the next week.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
LR: One of three things: check in with a team member in person, look at my to do list and pick the thing I most need to get done and do it, or walk through the Museum. The last option is always the smartest and most energizing.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
LR: Last year I said yes to too many opportunities. While it was terrific to get the Queens Museum’s work out into the world through my travel and talks, it was also a roller coaster, time-wise, and I was run ragged. Worth it, but I definitely needed some down time last summer to recover, and now I’m being more strategic with my yeses!

Laura Raicovich is President and Executive Director of The Queens Museum, where she directs all aspects of the Museum’s activities and is charged with envisioning its future.

Originally published at

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