Daily Routines

Maria Popova: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

With over a million monthly readers, Brain Pickings is the wildly popular website and brainchild of Maria Popova, who describes it as “an inventory of the meaningful life.” What started out in 2006 as a weekly newsletter to a small group of friends has blossomed into an online phenomenon and glimpse into Maria’s never-ending journey to satisfy her curiosity.

I don’t procrastinate when it comes to reading and writing. Having a daily rhythm of such intense pace makes that practically impossible.

Here’s How Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Writes | Copyblogger

Brain Pickings features a staggering amount of content, both curated and original works by Maria, and covers a wide range of topics, including literature, science, art, philosophy, culture and much more.

Each month, she dedicates over 400 hours; made up of reading hundreds of things every day, publishing three blog posts a day, and regularly updating her social media channels.

To run this website singlehandedly, Popova has built a regimented routine for herself to manage the task. There’s no other way to run a website as popular as Brain Pickings with only one person.

Because the volume of what I need to get done in a day is so enormous, I’m super disciplined and there’s a routine to my day that helps center and move me along.

Maria Popova on The Great Discontent (TGD)

In an interview with Tim Ferriss, Popova revealed that, while her wake up time varies, it’s always “exactly eight hours after I’ve gone to bed.” She’ll then start her day in her Brooklyn apartment with a 15-20 minute meditation session and a workout — 20 chin ups, 50 push ups, then a series of planks and stretches — before heading to the gym where most of her long-form reading is done while she’s on the elliptical.

As part of her research for Brian Pickings, Popova consumes a staggering amount of content every day. She discussed her consumption habits to Kelton Reid in 2013, “I do most of my long-form reading at the gym (pen and Post-Its and all), skim the news while eating (a questionable health habit, no doubt), and listen to philosophy, science, or design podcasts while commuting on my bike (hazardous and probably illegal).”

Popova will then head home to have breakfast and write, “I work barefoot, standing on a wobble board,” Popova explained in a Lifehacker profile.

I publish three articles a day, Monday through Friday. All are pre-scheduled and pre-written, some weeks in advance and others the day before. I try not to write on Fridays, which I reserve for email and meetings.


In the afternoon, Popova will take a break and spend her time taking care of admin — answer email, run errands, schedule in tweets. She’ll finish up her day in the evening with a yoga class, connecting with friends or spending time with her partner, before getting home to continue writing any unfinished articles for the day.

While routine aims to make the chaos of everyday life more containable and controllable, ritual aims to imbue the mundane with an element of the magical. The structure of routine comforts us, and the specialness of ritual vitalizes us.

The Difference Between Routine and Ritual | Brain Pickings

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.