Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Beth Monaghan: I wake up every weekday at 4:30 am, make tea, meditate, and then write. I try to take advantage of the clarity that comes in those early morning hours before emails start flooding in and my family wakes up. It’s how I find my center in a frenetic PR job that has to shape itself around 24-hour news cycles and social media whims.
TG: What gives you energy?
BM: Anything that opens me up to something I couldn’t see before — my daughters, writing, books, photos, murals, modern art, or even a graffiti insight on the sidewalk.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
BM: I don’t believe in half way so I try not to lean into the temptation of multitasking when life gets hectic, say when I have a conference call and a proposal due in the next hour. Or when I’m expecting an important email and I’m meeting with my management team. Focus is the only road to fullness. But I’m imperfectly human, so I have systems to keep me intentional, such as situating my laptop to the side of my desk so I interact with the human sitting in front of me, and closing email when I’m on conference calls.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
BM: Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett is my current life changer. In an age of polarity, she writes about what happens when people on either side of an issue refuse to believe the other is evil, and how we can create tighter connections to each other by opening up through experience versus beliefs.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
BM: I used to respond to my phone’s needy “dings” like one of Pavlov’s proverbial dogs who learned to salivate for food at the sound of a bell. Who’s had a good idea while tethered to email? Now, I’ve adjusted the notification settings on phone (I have none) and decided a watch is a more civilized (and fashionable) way to check the time anyway. My phone and I have a much healthier, strictly platonic relationship now. I still keep it next to my bed at night, but it’s been relegated to airplane or sleep mode.
TG: How do you deal with email?
BM: I decided to treat email more like a project than a dysfunctional relationship because it’s never going to love you back, but it’s always going to demand your attention. I set aside blocks of time on my calendar every day to respond to messages. It’s much more efficient to flow through 100 messages in a focused hour than to fend them off as they arrive. Plus, if a human in my world needs me urgently, they’ll text, or call, or stop by.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
BM: I do something different–anything other than what I had been doing for the majority of the day. If I’m near the MFA after a meeting, I sneak in for 15 minutes to see a new exhibit. If I’m in the office, I might go outside and walk around the building or visit some of my favorite InkHouse dogs (we’re a dog friendly company…and yes, I choose favorites).
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
BM: Yesterday. I’d been racing from city-to-city and meeting-to-meeting for two weeks, and my energy broke down the morning I took an early meeting and didn’t take the time to meditate. It was a reminder that perspective requires space between the chaos.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
BM: I let some people I respected immensely convince me to sit on a board of directors, when I knew I didn’t have the time. A stressful year later, I resigned. My schedule didn’t allow for my heart to be in it, which wasn’t fair to me or the organization. I should have trusted my initial instincts to decline, because worthwhile relationships always weather differences in personal priorities.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
BM: “I cannot find a single example of courage that was not born completely of vulnerability.” – Brene Brown
Beth Andrix Monaghan is Co-founder and CEO of InkHouse, as well as a writer, mother and feminist who advocates for equal opportunities at work, at home, and in life.