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Oct 18, 2016

The Secret To Success: Plan, Prioritize and Relax

Sponsored Content provided by Diane Durance - Director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

At the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we’re all about — you guessed it — innovation and entrepreneurs.

In a high-energy startup ecosystem like ours, there is a constant stream of opportunities flowing through. And as people with entrepreneurial spirits, we take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.

We work late nights and early mornings. We chug coffee as if it is some sort of magical productivity elixir. And in doing all of these wonderful and amazing things, our messy, busy, fast-paced lives sometimes come crashing down on us all at once.

The CIE has tons of high-profile events going on this fall, which means everyone on staff and all the tenants are on an especially high alert. But there’s more to innovation and entrepreneurship than just running yourself into the ground. Being a successful individual requires the ability to properly manage time, including time to rest.

So, we asked around the office to find out some of our staff’s favorite time-management tips.

Setting Priorities

“Prioritize wisely. Know what’s most and least important. And eat lots of carbs,” says Cameron Meredith, CEO of Remarkable and Meredith & Ford Media Group, also known as a CIE event assistant.

We’re not sure about the carbs part, but prioritizing efficiently is a must-have skill for all those with busy lives, and especially entrepreneurs.

This doesn’t only mean choosing which tasks to tackle first in your day, but also learning to let little things go when they slip through the cracks. It means choosing to worry about what’s coming, not what’s already been done. And it means learning how to say no and pass up opportunities and events that aren’t worth the time and effort.


“I don’t do this yet,” says Laura Brogdon-Primavera, CIE Manager of Operations, “but I’m going to start - shut off the inbox.
Only check emails at certain times of the day. Unplug. Know that the work will be there tomorrow, and it's okay not to do it all today.”

A whopping 72 percent of smartphone users check their phones once an hour. As a society, we no longer know how to be without technology for longer than a few minutes at a time. Technology is a great thing, and many of CIE’s tenants are tech-based startups, but moderation is key.

Being able to turn off the constant notifications and distractions contributes to the most important time-management skill – relaxation.


“Know how to relax,” Mary Harrison, CIE graduate assistant, says. Recharging is vitally important.

“Take your lunch break, laugh a little bit, gossip around the water cooler — it's all right,” adds Laura.

As Laura points out, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others — or your startup.

Sarah Ritter, UNCW graduate assistant and CEO of Turnip Learning, says one of the most unique and wonderful things about Wilmington is, of course, the beach.

“If you’re really stressed out, you can just spend a Saturday morning at the beach,” she said. “That’s my recovery — it’s important to recharge and get some perspective.”

Whether your relaxation involves sand and waves or a night curled up on the couch with “Friends,” make time for it.

Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit

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