Our series What Do People Do All Day? takes a look at the work life, lunch habits, and downtime of people across different industries.
Given all that Arianna Huffington has accomplished, you might assume she’s the sort of person who can’t put her phone down. Perhaps that was true at some point in her storied career, which includes launching The Huffington Post and publishing 15 books, but these days it most certainly is not. In fact, she founded her latest venture, Thrive Global—which recently moved into a headquarters by WeWork space in New York City—because she’s prioritized work-life balance over the past decade, and she wants to help other people and companies rethink their habits too.
“After my collapse from sleep deprivation and exhaustion in 2007, I became more and more passionate about the connection between wellbeing and performance,” she writes on the site. “And as I went around the world speaking about my experience, I saw two things: First, that we’re facing a stress and burnout epidemic. And second, that people deeply want to change the way they work and live.” Here’s a sampling of how Huffington works and lives—and, spoiler alert, it does not include checking her phone before bed.
I start every morning… by very deliberately not picking up my phone. Instead I’ll take a few minutes to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intentions for the day. Then I’ll do 20 to 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes on my stationary bike. A few times a week, I’ll also do yoga. Then I’ll shower, get dressed, and begin working from home to get some focused work done before I get into the office. An hour or two later, depending on my meeting schedule, I’ll make my way into the Thrive Global office.
I first check email… after I meditate, while I’m on my bike. Emails—and, more often, texts—from my daughters always get top priority.
My commute is… thankfully only one block, which doesn’t provide enough time to be distracted by even the possibility of multitasking. Though it is long enough to hear the New York City soundtrack of sirens and honking cars!
The first thing I do when I sit down to work is… go immediately into meetings. I also handle whatever was left undone the night before. I’m a big believer in the benefit of ruthless prioritization and structuring your day so you can take care of what absolutely has to be done, and then declare an end to it and be OK with incompletions for what can wait.
My ritual for getting started: Bulletproof Coffee.
The things most likely to break my focus: Text and email, the universal focus-breakers. I deliberately turn off all notifications from news outlets, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Last time I daydreamed in a meeting: I try to save my daydreaming for downtime, which keeps it out of meetings. I can’t remember my last specific daydream, but it probably involved my daughter’s impending wedding.
I eat lunch at work… around a table in my office (I don’t have a desk). I often have meals there with our internal team or guests.
The last time I check email at night: It varies, but shutting off screens—and escorting my devices out of my bedroom at least half an hour before I turn off the lights—is a big part of my bedtime ritual, and I always try to be asleep by midnight at the latest.
The last work thing I do before bed is… send any really important emails that have to be handled that night. And I always read a real, physical book before I go to sleep, but it has to be non-work-related.
The site I’m most likely to waste time on: The Onion. Still great.
My preferred email sign-off: Warmly, Arianna. Or, with people I’m close to, no sign-off. Or, with people I’m really, really close to: xoxo.