4 tips from Arianna Huffington to boost your productivity without burning out

Arianna Huffington
David Orrell | CNBC

Looking to get ahead? Arianna Huffington has some suggestions that won't leave you feeling fried.

"Entrepreneurs have bought into this idea that they have to burn out to succeed," Huffington tells CNBC.

Huffington, who left The Huffington Post in 2016 to focus on a new health and wellness start-up, Thrive Global, is no stranger to what she calls the "the myth of the entrepreneur."

In 2007, after working 18-hour days building her news website, Huffington collapsed while on the phone and checking emails. She woke up on the floor in a pool of blood with a cut over her eye and a broken cheekbone.

The injury, caused by severe exhaustion, served as a wake-up call.

"We have to change the culture to catch up with the science," she says. "That has happened many times in the past. We used to believe that the sun revolved around the earth and that lead to a lot of shipwrecks. Now we see a lot of human wrecks among entrepreneurs."

Huffington points to the 2016 death of Zhang Rui, a prominent 44-year-old Japanese tech CEO whose fatal heart attack may have been brought on by work-related stress, as a prime reason not to overdo it.

Here are four tips from Huffington to boost your productivity without burning out.

Shakira/Huffington: The importance of sleep...and more
Shakira/Huffington: The importance of sleep...and more


"We say that a good day starts the night before," Huffington says.

She explains that getting seven-to-nine hours a night is necessary for entrepreneurs to have a successful day.

"When we take time to sleep, recharge we are more effective as entrepreneurs, as leaders," Huffington says. "Our cognitive performance improves. We make better decisions. We are less reactive. We get less upset when bad things happen."

Huffington isn't the only one who thinks so. Sports clothing company Under Armour recently began selling "Athlete Recovery Sleepwear" as part of its line up of athletic gear. The company purports that the pajamas, which are lined with bioceramics technology, help the body recover faster and promote better sleep.

The product, hocked by New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, was promoted heavily during the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this month.

"That connection between sleep and performance is very new," Huffington said, explaining that she had encountered the product during her time at the conference.

Adopt these 3 habits to be productive every day
Adopt these 3 habits to be productive every day


Huffington wants to you keep your phone out of your bedroom.

"We are all addicted to our phones," she says. "So as a result we see ourselves sleeping with our phones by our beds. Which is one of the worst things we can do because, if we wake up in the middle of the night and can't immediately fall asleep, we find the majority of people are likely to go to their phone to check emails, to check texts and maybe even go down the rabbit hole of social media."

Thrive Global currently sells a $100 phone-charging station in the shape of a bed. The device can charge as many as eight phones and two iPads.

For those that rely on their phone as an alarm clock, Huffington suggests getting an analog clock or using Amazon's Alexa to set an alarm.

"The phone is a portal to our life," she says. "It will all be there in the morning."

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Eating a healthy breakfast is an important first step, but even more vital is taking your time with your food, Huffington says.

"A lot of people rush through their morning and start their day in a breathless state of stress, so part of our partnership with Pepsi is about bringing the joy back to the morning," she says.

Thrive Global partnered with Quaker Oats Company back in November and is slated to feature branded content about the importance of reducing stress in the morning and starting the day with a breakfast packed with nutrients.

While many people rush through breakfast or skip it entirely, Huffington suggests not just "grabbing something" to eat, but enjoying powering up at the beginning of the day.

We see a lot of human wrecks among entrepreneurs.
Arianna Huffington
founder of Thrive Global


Take breaks during the day, Huffington advises. Especially for meals.

"Take a colleague and go to a cafeteria or go to a table away from your desk in your office and have lunch," she says. "Even if you take 20 minutes to do that, it's more recharging than what so many of us do which is eating lunch while working."

Huffington notes that taking breaks or "pauses" are necessary for better productivity and for keeping stress levels low.

"It just makes a difference to how the rest of your day goes," she says.

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Break your snooze habit with this 5-step strategy