“The feeling of being rushed is a combination of anxiety and scattered thoughts, and a heavy dose…

“The feeling of being rushed is a combination of anxiety and scattered thoughts, and a heavy dose of inefficiency.” with Emma Rose Cohen and Ashley Graber

Have you ever met someone who is always complaining about being “busy”? They are always rushed yet not a whole lot is actually getting done. The feeling of being rushed is a combination of anxiety and scattered thoughts, and a heavy dose of inefficiency. If we take a minute to slow down, write a list of what needs to be accomplished, organize that list into priority level, and get that to-do list t’done, the busy feelings evaporates and are replaced by accomplishment.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Rose Cohen. Emma holds a masters degree from Harvard in Environmental Management and Sustainability. She spent the last four years working in environmental waste minimization at Los Alamos National Laboratories, in the Pollution Prevention department, where she worked tirelessly before quitting her job to become a “strawreprenuer”. Emma first became an activist against single-use plastic straws after a trip to Thailand where she found straws to be a constant companion to the beaches and a glaring sign that something needed to be done. In 2015, she did a Tedx Talk on the harmful effects of plastic straws on our oceans and environment. Emma created FinalStraw with Co-founder Mies Pepper to give people a convenient, durable alternative to single-use plastic straws. In March 2018, she launched FinalStraw through Kickstarter raising $1.8 million and have gone on to sell more than 250,000 units. Originally from New Mexico, Emma is currently building a FinalStraw HQ in Santa Barbara, CA and working on new convenient designs to replace single-use plastic utensils.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

My first business venture was when I was 7 years old. I collected fallen fruit from my neighbors trees and sold it at the farmers market with my sister. Fast forward 15 years I was living in Santa Barbara and attending UCSB. I couldn’t help but notice how much trash was created every weekend and how much of that discarded waste ended up on the beach. So I got together with a group of friends to create an environmental education non-profit aimed at kids and raising awareness of the effects of single-use plastic on the environment. It was called Save the Mermaids and we would dress up like mermaids and do school presentations and field trips. From there I went to Los Alamos National Laboratory and worked in the Pollution Prevention department while getting my masters from Harvard in Environmental Management and Sustainability. In October of 2017 I started working on FinalStraw and it was off to the races after our Kickstarter went viral and raised $1.89M.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

Have you ever met someone who is always complaining about being “busy”? They are always rushed yet not a whole lot is actually getting done. The feeling of being rushed is a combination of anxiety and scattered thoughts, and a heavy dose of inefficiency. If we take a minute to slow down, write a list of what needs to be accomplished, organize that list into priority level, and get that to-do list t’done, the busy feelings evaporates and are replaced by accomplishment.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

Great decisions are never made from a place of anxiety or fear. Was Otto Rohwedder rushed when he made his sliced bread machine in 1298? Definitely not.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 1 strategy that you use to “slow down to do more”?

Turn off notifications when working on a task that needs extended attention. Distractions pull you off task and start to create rushed feelings.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

Try creating one sacred moment a day, where you sit for an extra 10 seconds and just breathe. Like the moment you sit down into the car. Just pause, and take a couple deep breathes. Every time you sit in the car, do this. Smell deeply, feel your fingertips, check in with your body.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

I close my eyes and count down from 60. Focusing on the count and letting all other thoughts leave my mind.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices

● Headspace

● Tim Ferriss

● The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

● How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“ With increased privilege comes increased responsibility.” The wise words of Noam Chomsky shook me to the core when I read it while traveling in Cambodia in 2015.”“Responsibility accrues through privilege. People like you and me have an unbelievable amount of privilege and therefore we have a huge amount of responsibility.” After reflecting on this quote for a month, I returned from my trip I broke up with my bf, moved home, enrolled in a masters program for environmental management, and applied for a job in the field.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire people to A.C.T.

Acknowledge the problem: The oceans are filling with plastic-the turtles are snorting straws, the whales stomachs are filling up with car parts instead of krill, and the seals are tangled in netting. Cleanup projects are not a solution. It is like trying to drain a bathtub with a teaspoon and the tap running on full blast. We need to cut plastics off at the source!

Contribute to the solution: You are either part of the problem or part of the solution, there is no middle ground. And the only way to be part of the solution is to use less single-use plastic.

Tag companies with the hashtag #isthisyours to increase the visibility on the companies that are polluting our oceans. There are a few companies that are the main contributors! Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Pepsi Co. account for more than 50% of the global plastic pollution! Call them out!

Thank you so much for joining us!


“The feeling of being rushed is a combination of anxiety and scattered thoughts, and a heavy dose… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.