Reformed workaholic Arianna Huffington shares her secrets of success without stress.
By Robin Madell
If you spend most of your time feeling like you’ve got too much to do, you might feel better when you look at what’s on Arianna Huffington’s plate.
As head of one of the world’s most influential news and information brands, The Huffington Post, the sheer amount of data that this mother of two is responsible for overseeing can make your head spin. Despite these intense professional and personal responsibilities, Huffington has found a way to stay centered in the midst of competing demands that could easily feel chaotic.
I had a chance to interview Huffington to ask her how she does it—and how others can follow her example to achieve a better work-life balance of their own.
Create New Habits
In Thrive, Huffington advocates taking a few simple steps at the personal level that can lead to dramatic effects on your well-being. “I personally start every morning with 20 to 30 minutes of meditation, and in Thrive I recommend very small, manageable steps, including introducing 5 minutes of meditation into your day and getting just 30 minutes more sleep than you are getting now,” says Huffington. “These small changes can open the door to creating a new habit—and all the many proven benefits it brings.”
With her high-profile role in the media and mind-boggling responsibilities at HuffPo, you might wonder how consistently Huffington is able to follow her sleep and meditation routine, as well as other recommendations she gives readers. “On the whole I’m able to follow my own recommendations, though of course I slip up from time to time,” admits Huffington.
If she feels herself falling out of balance, Huffington has a strategy for catching herself quickly.“I find that the easiest way for me to course-correct is by focusing on my breathing,” says Huffington. “Conscious breathing is something I can return to hundreds of times during the day in an instant. It helps me introduce pauses into my daily life, brings me back into the moment, and helps me transcend upsets and setbacks.”
She adds that focusing on her breathing has helped her become much more aware of when she holds or constricts her breath—not just when dealing with a problem, but sometimes even when she’s doing something as mundane as putting a key in the door, texting, reading an email, or going over her schedule. “When I use my breath to relax the contracted core of my body, I can follow this thread back to my center,” says Huffington.
How can you increase your resolve to keep your work-life in better balance? Huffington recommends spreading the word about it.
“I’ve learned that going public about your decision—to meditate, to get more sleep, whatever it may be—can be one way to make that commitment stick,” says Huffington. “You’ll be surrounded, as I found out, by sympathetic friends who have been wanting to do the same thing and will help you stick to your goals.”
In Huffington’s case, after blogging on the Huffington Post about her commitment to get more sleep, complete strangers began coming up to her at events, glancing at their watches. “They were wondering how much longer I planned to stay and whether I was going to be able to get my eight hours,” recalls Huffington. “I felt like a kid out on a school night—with dozens of babysitters all anxious to help me keep my commitment.”
Robin Madell has spent over two decades as a corporate writer, business journalist, and communications consultant. She serves as a copywriter, speechwriter, and ghostwriter for executives and entrepreneurs across diverse industries. Robin is author of Surviving Your Thirties: Americans Talk About Life After 30. Connect with her on LinkedIn, circle her on Google+ or follow her on Twitter @robinmadell.