Productive Habits: an Interview with Carla Sinclair

Carla Sinclair is editor of Wink, co-founder of Boing Boing and is the author of four books. She was the editor-in-chief of Craft magazine, and then later Craft online. Her career spans everything from the golden age of print zines and Factsheet Five to the current world of web publishing.
Sinclair is one of our favorite very productive people and we were delighted when she agreed to share her habits with us.
What’s your own daily routine like? What habits do you cultivate and what benefits do you find in them?
I run Wink and I’m also writing a book, AND I pick my younger daughter up at school around 4:00, so it’s important for me to be efficient and organized with my time. So my routine goes like this: Monday through Friday I do a 30-min yoga class at 6:30 AM (through a site called Yogaglo). At 7:00 I help get my daughters off to school, then get ready myself. A few days a week my husband Mark and I also do a 10-minute kettle bell routine. By 9:30 I start work (except for Thursdays, which are my days for errands and appointments). I make sure to get up from the computer and stretch and move around every hour or so to keep my mind and body healthy. Mark and I make sure to have lunch every day together. I think it’s important for people to take that break. At some point after lunch I try to meditate for 10 minutes (I haven’t mastered this habit yet but do it at least a few days a week!), and when it’s sunny (almost always in Los Angeles) I make sure to sit facing the sun for 10 minutes. Making exercise, meditating, and sunshine part of my daily routine greatly improves my mood and clarity of mind.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you organize and prioritize your work during the day?
Making a to-do list every night for the next day is key to getting things done and staying sane. If I don’t make a list, the things I have to do seem unlimited and chaotic and can feel overwhelming. But once it’s all down on paper (or on my iPhone) I can see what’s important and what can be put off if need be. I can prioritize and realize that I’m in control. If something stays on the list for more than a few days, I realize it’s not important and put it on a secondary list I keep on my iPhone that I only check once every week or so.
Are there any habits you’re trying to develop now? What motivated you to work on them?
Yes! I’ve had chronic insomnia for a couple of years now, and after trying everything from acupuncture and herbs to hormones and prescription meds, I decided to create something I call the 30-day Sleep Challenge. I made a list of habits I had to stick to for 30 days, which included the 10 minutes of sun and meditation I mentioned above, 30 minutes of exercise every day, no caffeine after breakfast (I used to drink it in the afternoon), no aspartame, no “screens” (TV, computer…) after 6:00 unless I’m wearing orange “blue light blocking” glasses, and most importantly, keep the iPhone out of my bedroom when I go to sleep (I was so tempted to read email, news, Facebook, etc whenever I woke up in the middle of the night). I just finished this challenge a few days ago, but it was so successful—my sleep isn’t perfect yet but it greatly improved—that I’m continuing it. I’m making these habits part of my regular lifestyle.
Who or what inspires you? Whose habits would you like to know more about and why?
Women who are happy and healthy with the choices they’ve made—whether it’s working full time, being a stay-at-home mom, balancing motherhood and a career, or some other combination—are inspirational to me. In this busy task-oriented culture that we live in, it’s easy to be thrown off balance, and I’m always grateful and inspired by other women who are doing what they love with strength and happiness. And I do notice that these women always seem to be organized, focused, and have healthy habits that they follow.
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