Actress Judy Greer on the Small Change She Made to Improve Her Life

"I feel like I can have a better connection with people when I have more time with myself."

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.

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

JG: Snuggle and play with my dog for at least 10 minutes. It’s therapy and meditation rolled into one!

TG: What gives you energy?

JG: Being happy. Even when I’m extra busy, if I’m doing what I love with people who inspire me, I have boundless energy. The trick is getting to that place in life. I feel like I’m pretty much there right now. And I’m thankful!

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

JG: I have started wearing a watch every day so I don’t have to look at my phone to see what time it is, then I don’t get sucked into the phone vortex.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.

JG: They all do, in subtle ways. Reading is the easiest form of escape, travel, and education. I’ve never put a book down and said to myself, “Well, that was a waste of time.”

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

JG: My relationship with my phone is getting better. I’ve been working on it and have set up time limits for different apps. I started to feel gross if I was scrolling around and then realized an hour had gone by and I didn’t even realize it. I don’t like to have it near me while I sleep anymore. I either leave it in the kitchen or turned over as far from me in the bedroom/hotel room as possible.

TG: How do you deal with email?

JG: This is still a problem for me. I am still in the process of asking anyone I can how they deal with email so I can learn something. The best idea I’ve heard so far was Howard Stern said on his show he only checks his email twice a day. I’m trying to do that right now, but it’s hard! And emailing makes more email, which can be overwhelming.

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

JG: Knit! I always have my knitting! Years and years ago when I was trying to quit smoking cigarettes, I signed up for knitting lessons and it has continued to change my life. It’s quiet, it’s meditative, it’s portable (I travel a lot), I can do it anywhere (on set, it’s the best), keeps me off my phone, I can listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I do it, it’s a great community of people I meet wherever I travel, and at the end of it, I have something to show for all that time spent!

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

JG: It was September, just before leaving for location to shoot a movie. I had so many different projects I was in some form of development on, I was having a really hard time prioritizing and delegating. I couldn’t sleep because I felt like I was spread too thin.

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

JG: “This too shall pass.” It was painted on the wall in my 9th grade english class and I have never forgotten it. It is both encouraging that the hard parts will always come to an end, but also a reminder to enjoy what is happening now because it may not always be.

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

JG: Look at deadlines. The entire list can be overwhelming, but if I break it down to what has to be done soonest, it helps me.

TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?

JG: You don’t have to go to every party you get invited to.

TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life?

JG: Arianna Huffington!

TG: What’s your personal warning sign that you’re depleted?

JG: I feel myself starting to get angry at things.

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?

JG: Cancel immediate plans and stay home.

TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?

JG: I’m really trying not to text and walk anymore. If I need to look at my phone, I will stand aside and look at my phone, then put it away and carry on.

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?

JG: I try to see my life from an outsider’s perspective and remind myself I’m pretty lucky.

TG: What brings you optimism?

JG: My husband, my dog, and traveling.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your sleep. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

JG: Not having my phone near my in bed. It started working right away!

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

JG: Cutting back on making plans with people. Even though I don’t see my friends as much, I feel like I can have a better connection with people when I have more time with myself.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your focus. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

JG: Sleep! Getting better sleep changes everything and keeps my brain sharper.

TG: What was the biggest turning point in your life?

JG: Meeting my husband. He gave me a reason to slow down, relax and enjoy life.

TG: What’s your secret time-saver in the morning?

JG: Laying out clothes the night before and packing up my purse/bag for the day.

TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?

JG: Sipping on sleepytime herbal tea in bed, reading a book, and enjoying a major dog cuddle.

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