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.
For decades, nutritional experts have encouraged us to “balance our plate.” Amanda Kludt, the SVP of Editorial for Eater and Curbed, and the Editor-in-Chief of Eater, a go-to resource for food, drink, and restaurant obsessives, believes in giving sound advice about food and nutrition, but also in injecting food coverage with fresh energy. Kludt also co-hosts the successful podcast, Eater’s Digest, and is a mom of two.
With her dual experience in food and media, Kludt is candid about the ways in which both industries need to change. From overworked restaurant chefs to reporters who struggle to disconnect, burnout is an issue in both worlds. But Kludt is optimistic. “People coming out now, both in media and restaurants, seem very energized to improve these industries. I love that,” she says. To insulate herself from burnout, Kludt makes a point of allocating time away from her work.
In her Thrive Questionnaire, Kludt reveals her top tips for maintaining a happy lifestyle, which include using sit-down meals to strengthen connections, indulging in comfort food, and listening to your skin.
Thrive Global: What gives you energy?
Amanda Kludt: Being outside in the fall or spring, walking my kid to school, and fun dinner parties.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
AK: My phone and I have a pretty chill relationship. It sleeps on the nightstand next to my bed, but I neither go to bed nor wake up checking it.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
AK: There were a couple of months this summer where I wasn’t able to focus on the creative aspects of my job and work. I instead needed to spend most of my time on strategic planning, the business side of our publications, and people management. I love that work, but I find it much more draining than writing, editing, recording, and brainstorming.
TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?
AK: I try very hard to block out time for a) big picture planning/thinking and b) things I have to do that aren’t fun. That’s because I know that these are the two types of things I’ll push aside as more enjoyable tasks arise, or as fires need to be put out. The key is never to let them fall off my calendar. I can push the blocks of time around, but never delete them.
TG: What’s your personal warning sign that you’re depleted?
AK: My skin will tell me. I haven’t had skin problems since my mid-twenties, but if I’m getting burned out,working too much, or not sleeping enough, I’ll start to get little breakouts or my skin will start looking dull.
TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?
AK: I just start saying no to more things, especially after work engagements. I can get into cycles of saying yes, and then I hit a breaking point.
TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?
AK: I find playing with my very young kids to be a mindfulness practice in a way. It’s often tedious and boring, but still requires my attention, so it allows my brain to relax. I feel very present when I’m building train tracks, pushing my kids on the swings, or reading board books. I imagine when they get older, interacting with them will require more active thought, but for now, it’s a surprising source of peace.
TG: What brings you optimism?
AK: People coming out now, both in media and restaurants, seem very energized to improve these industries. People building restaurants from scratch want them to be more equitable and safer places to work. Young people entering media want to tell more inclusive stories, want to find new characters, and want to redefine power. I love that and find it incredibly energizing.
TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your focus.
AK: This is a small one, but I’m trying to get better at turning off notifications in Slack. It’s an incredible workplace tool, especially for someone with large remote teams, but also a very powerful distraction. It’s easy to feel like you’re working when you’re actually just reading the chatter in various Slack channels. It’s also easy to fall into the habit of immediately responding to every question and it’s detrimental to doing any kind of deep work.
TG: Your job requires a continuous creation of content. What’s your advice on avoiding creative burnout?
AK: Make time to get out into the world. It’s incredible how one little interaction or observation can inspire a story.
TG: Let’s talk comfort food. Is there a certain bite that boosts your mood?
AK: Really good sushi gives me the biggest endorphin rush straight to my brain. So that’s a great and wildly expensive mood booster. A more traditional comfort food that gives me joy is probably pizza.
TG: The restaurant industry is known for being a stressful environment. What is your advice for people on the front end of the food industry?
AK: Create real boundaries. I have so many friends who work in restaurants who will stay past their shift or come in to socialize on their nights off. It helps to build a community, but it also makes it hard for them to build lives and interests outside of work.
TG: Do you have any advice for people who want to maintain a healthy balance in their life?
AK: I think kids kind of force this because they make you set new priorities. But you can also find this break from the stress of work with exercise, hobbies, or volunteering. I’ve always been embarrassed that I don’t have a ton of interests or hobbies outside of work, but I recognize I do love to read. And I make a concerted effort to make time to read for joy, not for work.
TG: Sharing a meal with friends and family is often the most intimate interaction in our day. Do you use food to connect and refresh?
AK: Absolutely. It’s my main way of connecting with my friends and with my family.
TG: What are three life ingredients that help you thrive?
AK: A stable childcare situation, creative and talented coworkers, and some form of chocolate every day.
— Interview by Lindsey Benoit O’Connell
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