The Thrive Questionnaire//

Actress Janet Montgomery on the Importance of Prioritizing as A New Mom

The “New Amsterdam” star shares the daily habits that help her thrive.

Credit Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal
Credit Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal

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.

Janet Montgomery is no stranger to the hustle and hard work. As the British actress told the Wall Street Journal, she was brought up in a working class family where pocket money wasn’t handed out. So to earn her own, she got a job as a server at the local cafe when she was just 13. Fast-forward to 2009, when Montgomery moved to LA on a whim, and found her path as an actress. She’s known for starring in WGN’s “Salem,” as well as other roles in films like The Rapture, My Idiot Brother and Black Swan — and is currently starring in the NBC hit series “New Amsterdam.”

Since the birth of her daughter, Juno Fox, this past March, Montgomery is prioritizing family and taking time for self-care. She shares with Thrive what gives her energy and the best advice she’d give her younger self.

THRIVE GLOBAL: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Janet Montgomery: It was always put the kettle on so I can have my morning tea but now it’s feed my daughter and edge towards the kettle once she’s finished.

TG: What gives you energy?

JM: Being around funny and witty people who make me laugh gives me energy. I think laughter surges energy levels higher than any caffeinated drink.

TG: What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?

JM:  Most nights I write down a list of things I need to do the next day. I store it in my notes on my phone. I will nearly always make the list too long but it means I have a whole checklist that keeps me on schedule because I am someone who can easily get distracted.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.

JM: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you? 

JM: It sleeps next to me on the bedside table but I know I should keep it somewhere else.

TG: How do you deal with email?

JM: Appallingly. I have something like 68,000 unread emails and I miss important emails amongst all the fodder.

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?

JM: I prioritize by deadlines and what needs to be done first and what can wait. 

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?

JM: I make a cup of tea and read some of brainpickings.org.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

JM: I have a 5 month old so it happens quite regularly these days! Usually if I do the morning shift with her around 4am, I then go to work and by 7pm I am a monster. Managing my tiredness is something I am trying to learn right now. 

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

JM: I recently started boxing classes and it’s an incredible workout, but I failed to finish the squats at the end of class last week and ended up vomiting! I don’t really know how I can overcome that, but I think if I keep turning up to class and putting the work in, my body will get stronger and I will be able to endure all the exercises. 

TG: What advice would you give your younger self?

JM: Be confident in exactly who you are. Do not be ashamed of where you come from; just make sure you live a life that you are proud of.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.

JM: “You have to die a few times before you can really live.” —Charles Bukowski 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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