Media Powerhouse Joanne Lipman on Why Devices Are Not Welcome in Her Bedroom

Plus, her trick to being productive.

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.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Joanne Lipman: My husband brings me a cup of coffee. I am not a morning person!

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
JL: Work without interruptions for 90 minutes – no emails, turn off your computer alert alarms– and then take a break. The trick is, you must take the break. It can be short, whether it’s taking a walk outside, calling a friend or taking a shower. But you must force yourself to do it.

This hack – with hat tip to Tony Schwartz, who suggested it after I had a nasty bout of writer’s block on my first book – is remarkably effective. it works in two ways: First, it creates an artificial deadline, so you are forced to focus, to finish the task at hand. It’s a procrastination-buster. And second, the break clears your head and keeps you fresh for the next round, eliminating burnout.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JL: “Harriet the Spy,” by Louise Fitzhugh, which I first read when I was seven years old. Harriet is an 11-year-old girl who carries around a notebook and spies on – and then writes about – everyone in the neighborhood. After reading the book, I did the same thing… which is how I ended up as a journalist!

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
JL: Never. All computer, phones, devices stay out of the bedroom. I’m a big believer in staying away from screens, emails and alerts at night.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
JL: I have yet to find an unexpected 15 minutes. My guess is no working mom ever has!

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