The Productivity Giants Series with Vanessa Van Edwards, Behavioral Investigator and Author


The tagline on Vanessa Van Edwards’ website reads – “I’m Vanessa and I’m a recovering boring person.” Vanessa has reshaped her life into being a “professional people-watcher” – studying what makes people tick and what drives human behavior.


A behavioral investigator, she is the lead at her human behavior research lab, The Science of People. Designing and executing her own research experiments, her goal is to crack the code of human behavior and how and why people do what they do. She also hosts workshops for individuals looking to learn how to succeed in business and in their personal lives by uncoding the secret dynamics of human behavior.


Vanessa is also a bestselling author – her latest book Captivate was named “one of the most anticipated books of the year” by Apple and is all about how to be the most memorable person in the room.


Without further ado, here’s how the very interesting Vanessa Van Edwards spends her days and amplifies her productivity. Read on:


What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?


This is brain warm-up time! I find that if I jump straight into emails my whole day is wrecked. I try to start by reading some great non-fiction books–I read EVERY book that has been recommended to me 3 times by 3 different sources. I have lots of reading material. Then tea from my garden, a bowl of fruit and classical music.


What’s your number one productivity/time-saving tip?


Never start with a blank slate. As a writer, I find blank pages overwhelmingly intimidating. A new chapter. A blank blog post. I always end my day mid-sentence. That way the next day I just finish the sentence and I am off and running without having to start fresh.


Do you have a pre-bed/nightly routine?


Thinking of one thing I am grateful for.


How often do you check your inbox?


I wish only 3 times a day. But it’s more like 30.


#1 Email tip?


Canned responses — anything you have written more than twice, save, copy, paste.


Favorite SaneBox feature?


Your sanity email tips on the blog!


What’s the biggest hindrance to your productivity? How do you combat it?


I really hate the phone. People always want to hop on a call and it seems rude to say no. But I find phone calls to be a waste of time and break up any kind of productivity.


When you lose focus, what do you do to regain it?


My Asana list keeps me grounded.


What have you learned from your failures?


My first book failed. It was horrible and important. I learned what I did wrong so that I could do everything differently for my last book which hit the WSJ and USA Today bestseller lists!


What bad advice do you hear often?


Say yes to everything–you never know when opportunity will knock. If you say yes to everything you will be so tired that when opportunity knocks you will tell it to go away so you can watch Netflix.


What book has changed your life and why?


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie started my career. I never knew that soft skills could be learned. Now I know they can be boiled into a learnable science.


The most worthwhile investment in time, money, or energy that you’ve made?


An amazing bed – from a mattress to pillows, to sheets, to a duvet. Your bed should be your safe haven.


What’s your definition of productivity?


Doing work that you are best at and trying to get better and better at it.


In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?


Pay for cheap upgrades – faster Internet, better seats, faster lines. Time is worth more than money.


What have you become better at saying no to?


Phone calls — I am allergic to the phone 🙂






Follow Vanessa on Twitter.