Bianca Bosker: ‘I’ve Become Militantly Protective About Bedtime’

The Cork Dork author and journalist on how she fights burnout and why her phone stays in another room when she writes.

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?
Bianca Bosker: I make a pot of tea. It buys me time to clear my head before I really have to start thinking for the day. I also enjoy smelling the tea leaves — it’s a little jolt of stimulation that gets me going.

TG: What gives you energy?
BB: The glow of first light in the morning. And deadlines. I like deadlines.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
BB: Sleeping eight hours per night. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I am useless if I sleep less, so I’ve become militantly protective about bedtime. I go to bed earlier now than I did in middle school.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
BB: ONE?! Recently, John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead, Bill Buford’s Heat, Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, and John McPhee’s Uncommon Carriers — singular works of non-fiction that gave me the inspiration, vision, and courage to embark on writing my own book, Cork Dork.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?BB: It sleeps next to me, but in “do not disturb” mode. I can’t have it in the same room with me while I’m writing, though. Just seeing it throws off my focus.

TG: How do you deal with email?
BB: Very poorly and extremely slowly. I’m thinking about it even when I’m not dealing with it, which I despise.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
BB: I take a walk around the model boat pond in Central Park while forcing myself to do nothing — no reading, no listening to music, no answering emails. Nothing except letting my mind reboot so I can come back to a problem or paragraph with a fresh eye.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
BB: I feel like I’m verging on it right now, as I write this. But any time I start to get too frazzled, cheesy as it sounds, I remind myself of how thrilled — and lucky — I am to be working on the projects I have underway, whether it’s sharing my book with curious readers, or exploring the wild world of Japanese melons for a story.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
BB: I don’t think it’s “failing” if you learn something from the experience.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
BB: It’s a quote from Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”