The Deep Focus Routine That Keeps WeWork COO Jen Berrent Centered

“If I go days without meditating, people will feel it.”

The Deep Focus Routine That Keeps WeWork COO Jen Berrent Centered
[Photo: Maciek Jasik]

Almost every morning, I work out or meditate or do yoga. If I go days without meditating, people will feel it in the office for sure. I have a son who gets up at 7 a.m., so I do all that stuff before and then I spend time with him.


I like to walk to work. Our office moved a couple of years ago, so I eventually moved to [stay] within walking distance. I use [the time] for phone calls, and I do a lot of walking meetings. That was one thing that bonded me with Adam [Neumann, WeWork’s CEO] when I first started. We would do some one-on-ones just walking the city. People used to say the best way to talk to your teenage kids was to drive with them because you’re going somewhere and don’t have to make eye contact, so it would allow them to open up. I believe in that.

I can be extremely focused pretty quickly, almost anywhere. I can just shut things out. I will flip open my computer, and then I’m in it. I can do work in these short bursts. I’ve done work in crazy spots. I was at my cousin’s [baby] shower, and a huge crisis came in, and I was stealing local Wi-Fi. I ran a board call with my son at the dentist.

Time she wakes up: 5:30 a.m.

First thing she does: “Look at my phone. I read through all of the communications that have come in since I went to sleep—text, email, Slack. I check The New York Times and Twitter, and then I get out of bed. I know spiritually that’s all wrong, but that’s what I do.”

Email strategy: “I believe in the one-touch theory. I take action when I read it.”

Dealing with the news: “I look at Twitter a decent amount, and I listen to NPR and check The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. But trust me, there have been certain things that have happened, especially in the past six months, where I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ And all of a sudden I’m reading story after story on the craziness of it.”


Productivity philosophy: “I started out as a corporate lawyer. I became a fanatic over checklists. In fact, the book that I give out is The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. That’s one of my biggest hacks—you have to write everything down.”

Best habit: Meditation.

Nightly routine: “I read every night. I try to read books. That’s one of
the things I let slide that I felt very guilty about. My grandmother, whom I was very close with, passed away recently. When I told her, ‘I really miss reading,’ she was like, ‘Oh, Jen, when you’re old, you’ll have plenty of time to read.’ ”

Time she goes to bed: Around 11 p.m.