Gretchen Rubin

“A Good Nap Can Change a Person’s Whole Perspective.”

“A Good Nap Can Change a Person’s Whole Perspective.”

Interview: Anna Palmer.

Anna Palmer is the senior Washington correspondent for POLITICO and the co-author of POLITICO's Playbook She’s also the co-host of the daily POLITICO morning podcast Playbook Audio Briefing (which she records at 4 a.m. every morning!) as well as host of the Women Rule podcast.

I couldn’t wait to talk to Anna about happiness, habits, and productivity.

Gretchen: What’s a simple habit or activity that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

Anna: WATER. I challenge myself to drink 90 oz of water a day – I really believe it bleeds into making similar healthy choices and keeps me peppy despite my early mornings and late nights!

Gretchen: What’s something you know now about building healthy habits or happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

Anna: FOMO. I used to have a huge fear of missing out and that would mean I was going to all kinds of things on the off chance it would be something special and run myself ragged in doing so. I try to be much more deliberate and be present at the events I choose to attend.

Gretchen: Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

Anna: Sleep. I always want more but it's hard when we are all on the go. I got great advice a few years ago -- and that was to be comfortable taking a nap. A good nap can change a person's whole perspective.

Gretchen: Which habits are most important to you? (for health, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)

Anna: Regular workouts are a must to keep me sane -- it's easy to blame my schedule for my energy levels, but I know that a session with my trainer Keith will always turn things around. He's also refocused my energy from just doing cardio to really spending time with weights, squats and ab work. I love band workouts -- we are focusing on walking lunges and eliminating sugar (except my wine, a lady needs one outlet!).

Gretchen: Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

Anna: I used to love to stay up late. My hours made that impossible and I have found early to bed, early to rise is a much healthier, consistent way of living my life.

Gretchen: Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

Anna: Definitely an Upholder. I like to know what the expectations are from others and myself and then not only meet, but exceed them.

Gretchen: Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits? (e.g. travel, parties)

Anna: I travel a lot for work and keep unconventional hours -- waking up between 3:30 AM and 4 AM Monday through Friday to write Playbook and record the Playbook Audio Briefing. At the same time, I am really focused on keeping up my close relationship with my friends and family. That can be challenging when traveling to the West Coast and getting up at 1 a.m. to do my job.

Gretchen: Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

Anna: I made a promise to myself in my early 30s that I would try to travel abroad at least twice a year. I hadn't done much international travel at that time (mostly because I was working and a struggling journalist). It hit me that I needed to work hard, but also play hard -- and I have traveled the world, explored new cultures and come back reinvigorated in my career.

Gretchen: Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to "Be Gretchen.") Or a quotation that has struck you as particularly insightful? Or a particular book that has stayed with you?

Anna: There is no substitute for excellence. My mom Joyce -- or JMom as she calls herself -- repeated that a lot to us as kids. And I have even heard her say it as an adult. Without that internal north star, I wouldn't be writing my first book and still dragging myself to the treadmill in the mornings!

icon emailNewsletterLight

Get monthly newsletter updates from Gretchen.

icon schooled

Find out if you’re an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or a Rebel.

The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t actOur Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.

Take the quiz

Get My Monthly Newsletter

Sign up to get my free monthly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here, my Facebook Page, and new original work.