Jill Filipovic: ‘My Partner and I Have a ‘No Phones at the Table’ Rule’
The author, journalist, and attorney on how she deals with technology.
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?
Jill Filipovic: Everyone says “meditate,” don’t they? I do not do that; some alternate-universe better version of myself meditates first thing in the morning but I have not once in my life managed to make that happen. Instead, I stumble into the bathroom and brush my teeth because I can’t focus on anything if my mouth feels like warm garbage, and then I either make coffee or whine at my fiancé to please make me coffee. The only reason I’m not saying “check my email” is because I do that in bed, not immediately after getting out of it.
TG: What gives you energy?
JF: Coffee, a regular yoga practice, spending time around dynamic, fascinating people, and getting to travel and work in new and interesting places.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
JF: Dress for the job you want. I want to be a successful freelance writer, so I don’t wear real pants very often, which saves a lot of money on pants. Also, coconut oil. Cook with it, rub it all over your body, use it in place of conditioner. It’s a real one-stop life needs shop.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JF: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins. Joyful, marginally insane, creative, and full of weirdo female characters. I had never read anything like it, and I fell in love — with the book, and with the fantasy of being a female outlaw.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
JF: We are codependent. It sleeps next to me, which is bad, I know. But I am trying to establish healthy boundaries by leaving it in my bag during dinners with friends and loved ones, so I can focus on them and enjoy the food. At home, unless one of us is on deadline, my partner and I have a “no phones at the table” rule. It’s actually really easy because we like talking to each other.
TG: How do you deal with email?
JF: Poorly and sporadically. Sorry to everyone reading this who I haven’t emailed back. As of this writing, gmail tells me I have 345,618 unread emails. But I have a very sophisticated starring system to flag the emails I want to respond to, and I have like a 50% success rate.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
JF: Read advice columns. It’s my guiltiest pleasure (or at least the guiltiest pleasure I don’t eat or drink). I really enjoy reading about other peoples’ problems, especially when they’re exceptionally ridiculous and I can feel superior to the question-asker, but also when they’re real and challenging and I can either admire or feel appalled by the wisdom of the advice columnist. My favorites as Dear Prudence, Ask Amy, Ask Polly, Social Qs and Judge John Hodgeman (and I dearly miss Dear Sugar and the Ask A Dude / Ask A Lady series at The Awl).
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
JF: Today. I’m just wrapping up a book tour, which has been awesome and exhilarating, but also very exhausting for someone who is a bit introverted and finds public speaking nerve-wracking and depleting. I need a nap.
TG: Share a quote that gives you strength when times are tough.
JF: Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in New York City and Nairobi. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, a regular columnist for Cosmopolitan, and a blogger for Feministe. She has appeared in the Washington Post, Time Magazine, and the Nation, among others. Her new book, The H-Spot, released on May 2, 2017.