Why Ezra Klein Tries to Avoid Meetings Before Noon

The Vox.com founder and editor-in-chief on his morning routine.

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?
Ezra Klein: In theory? Meditate for 15 minutes and then read a book for 45 minutes. Sometimes that even happens in practice! The thing I try hard not to do first is check my email. If I can’t stay away from my phone first thing, I only allow myself to look at Instagram. Instagram is a happy place.

TG: What gives you energy?
EK: Feeling like I’m learning new things or figuring something out. I get very tired if I feel like I’m working hard but not making any intellectual or creative progress.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
EK: Irritated and not sure why? Drink water.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
EK: Cal Newport’s Deep Work led me to make concrete changes to my daily schedule. He’s very persuasive that we’re slowly training ourselves into distractibility, and that you don’t want the brain that results from a mix of thoughtless scheduling and constant digital interruptions. So since I read it, I’ve been trying to avoid scheduling meetings before noon, and I’m working to spend at least 45 minutes a day reading one book without interruptions.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?EK: My relationship with my phone is a festival of codependence, dysfunction, frustration, and self-loathing. I hate it. I need it. I’ve started trying to leave it at home when I go to dinner or out to a bar so I’m not compelled to check it. But then how do I get an Uber back? Anyway, as you’d expect from a relationship that sounds like this, we no longer sleep in the same bed, but we haven’t yet begun sleeping in separate rooms.

TG: How do you deal with email?
EK: Inconsistently.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?EK: Open Instapaper, read some things. Or I try to knock some smaller items off my to-do list.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
EK: You’re asking me on the Sunday after inauguration? Now. Does now count?

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
EK: I’m always failing at some things and, hopefully, succeeding at others. I’m not sure it’s a thing to overcome so much as a state of being to accept. I am currently failing at accepting it.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
EK: Quotes don’t give me much strength or peace, but there’s a line I love from the Savage Detectives: “and I lived, to make a long story short, in my time, I lived in the time I’d chosen and that surrounded me, aquiver, in flux, brimming over, happy.”

Ezra Klein is the founder and editor-in-chief of Vox.com. He’s also the host of The Ezra Klein Show podcast, and co-host of the Weeds podcast.