Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson Learned that Sleep Is the Only Thing That Works


And then I run home, play with the kids. I tell stories to one of the kids when he goes to bed, I play guitar with the other kid when he goes to bed, and then I hang with my wife, do more work, go to bed, and get up and do it again .

When’s bedtime?

10:30, 11:00. I try to get a good night’s sleep. It’s definitely one of the things I’ve learned. There are a whole bunch of things that have come from running that I think apply to the rest of my life. And if you’re going to train at a high level, you have to sleep a lot. It’s the only thing that works. In running, you get a clear readout on it because if you don’t do it, you get injured doing bad workouts. But it also applies to work. You get four hours of sleep one night and you’re less able to do your job. It’s not worth it.

How often do you get through everything on your Trello board? The five most important tasks, do you get through those most days?

Well, they’re not tasks that I can complete. They’re things like, “Fix this big problem.” They’re there so that if you’re ever distracted in the day, or stuck in minutiae, or you’re like, “I don’t have anything to do. I should check Twitter,” you look at your Trello board and you’re like, “Oh wait, no, no, no, no, I should be working on this thing.” There’s so many ways you get distracted in minutiae, and they’re just there to remind you of what actually matters.

To that point of getting distracted by the minutiae, how do you deal with email, or text messages? Do you have a specific way that you engage with that stuff?

I will often set a timer. “Okay, I’m doing email for 10 minutes.” When the timer goes off, you stop. I have this goal (that I never accomplish) of reading every email only once. When there’s an email that requires a very short, easy response, but you read the email like seven times because you can’t quite bring yourself to do it, that’s a time sink.

I know you practice something called “The Alexander Technique.” How did you come to that?

In my early twenties, I was a pretty serious musician, I played all around New York. I played in the subways. I cared a lot about it. I put out a couple albums, but I had a very physically straining form of music where I was slapping the guitar, and I started to get really brutal pain in my wrists. I had to stop playing. I did steroidal injections. I would wear a cast on my hands. I started using a Dvorak keyboard, which is a keyboard where your fingers have to move less while you type. I took crazy doses of ibuprofen. I did acupuncture. I brushed my teeth with my left hand. None of it worked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *