The Thrive Questionnaire with Lady Kinvara Balfour

Lady Kinvara Balfour shares how she keeps her inbox so organized and a few of her secret life hacks.

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?
Lady Kinvara Balfour: I turn my somewhat irascible, often-apprehending wake-up thinking into positivity and enthusiasm for the day. I count my blessings and consider what I have ahead. I muster up courage and motivation for that day, and strive to be right-sized in all I do; I remind myself that I am no less than, and no better than, anyone else. And then I look at my iPhone, scroll through Instagram and re-remind myself that I am no less than, and no better than, anyone else.

TG: What gives you energy?
KB: Going to the theatre and the cinema. Reading books. Finding people I identify with and sharing openly and honestly with those people – be that about personal issues, business ideas or creative plans. Hanging out with children, or Granny Balfour aged 97. I also find browsing the internet very energizing, be that on my phone or laptop; I see images and words that motivate me and make me feel a part of the world. I am a huge fan of the world wide web and get much from it.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
KB: Back in England, my secret life hack is Ocado supermarket delivery service – nothing replaces it in USA and it saves so much time and energy. I would also add John Lewis to that mix – for everything one ever needs to buy. Ever. I think ordering things on Amazon is one of life’s greatest hacks. I thank Jeff Bezos for creating that one every day. I also recommend Spacemasks (like little hot water bottles for your eyes) and 3M Classic earplugs. I am an earplug connoisseur.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
KB: Aside from absolutely everything and anything by Evelyn Waugh, Oscar Wilde, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Roald Dahl, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Alan Bennett and William Shakespeare, the poem-song ‘Wear Sunscreen’ is one of my favourite works of literature. It teaches me all I need to know and I listen to it often.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
KB: I love my phone and have zero shame about that. I love what it looks like and I love what it does for me. I have enough of a life outside of it to know when to put it down and when to pick it up – but when I am staring at its perfect, crystal-clear, beautiful screen, I enjoy it immensely.

TG: How do you deal with email?
KB: I am extremely clean with my emails and delete those I no longer need regularly
throughout the day. My inbox cleansing happens hourly rather than weekly. I am sure some would call that OCD or ADHD. I call it being organised.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
KB: I lie down if I can, close my eyes, take a deep breath and hope to fall asleep for a little snooze. I firmly believe in the power of sleep. I consider it to be medicine, and something that should be incorporated into life without guilt or shame.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
KB: I am usually quite done in by the end of a Friday. I pack so much into the week, Friday evenings are when I sit down, unwind and need serious sleep – which I allow myself. I am not one of those who gets so burned out that Saturday and Sunday become Shatterday and Shunday but Friday evenings are sacred, and always call for a long bath, and my favourite cashmere jumper and fleecy trackpants.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
KB: I can feel like I have failed daily when I do not manage to do everything on my to-do list, but I know that no-one ever completes every task on that wretched list. I have learned to do as much as I can, to take breaks in between the chores, and to set realistic goals rather than overly-ambitious, workaholic ones. And to say no at least once a day.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
KB: Today is about progress not perfection.

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