Taking Back My Time — A Deep Dive into the Morning and Night Routines of Successful CEOs
I have a problem. For as long as I can remember, I never seem to have enough time to do the things I want to do. I used to blame external forces but deep down, it’s me and not them.
For a little while, I almost had it figured out but then the recent (well, it’s been almost a year now) arrival of my baby, my time is no longer my own again.
Everything went out of whack and I find myself working around her constantly changing schedules and my constantly changing circumstances.
Now that everything is starting to settle in and settle down a bit, I find myself scrambling through the day trying to get things done but not accomplishing much.
There is something about routines that is less taxing on the brain and will power. I started to look into how the most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs are structuring their days.
Here are my findings.
As the founder of Huffington Post and Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington is regarded as one of the most successful women in media. She drastically changed the way she worked when she collapsed in the bathroom due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion.
Sleep is a crucial part of her routine.
She doesn’t use an alarm clock and goes to sleep before midnight. This allows her to get as much sleep as her body truly needs — meaning at least 7–8 hours of solid shut eye.
After waking up, she sets her intentions, 30 minutes of yoga, 30 minutes meditation, shower, coffee, fruit then start work.
Her night time routine is a bit more elaborate — a bath with lavender oil, Epsom salts and candles. Then it’s devices off and away from the bedroom before the ride to dream land.
Sleep is an important thing for this billionaire. In fact, with all the rich and famous people listed here, sleep is a priority in their night routines.
He also cleans at night as part of his wind down process. Mindfully doing mundane tasks can help boost creativity and works almost as well as meditation. For Bill Gates, it’s chores.
Bill Gates is also part of the 4am club, meaning that he’s in bed by 9pm if he’s going to get a good 8 hours of sleep.
Waking up early has it’s benefits, especially when the rest of the world is still asleep. First of all, there is less ‘noise’ and demands from the world. Secondly, you actually get time to do the most important things without distraction.
Mark Zuckerberg did a bit of a Steve Jobs with his clothes. Wearing the same thing every day means one less decision to make.
Decision fatigue is a real thing especially when there a million decisions you have to make in a day. It’s also a good way to save money as well, not that Mark Zuckerberg needs to save much for new clothes.
Unlike the others listed here, Mark Zuckerberg is a much later riser — waking up at 8am and then hitting social media right away. It is his life after all, so that’s probably the equivalent of everyone else hitting their emails.
Richard Branson wakes up at 5am because it allows him to get on top of things before the day comes into full swing, followed by some tennis, kite surfing, walk, run or bike his way into an adrenaline rush. While kite surfing isn’t really on everyone’s list, the point of it all is that he exercises in the morning.
Spending time with his family at breakfast sets him and grounds him for the day before work truly begins, then ending the day at around 11pm.
Oprah starts her day without an alarm. In fact, her dogs are her wake up call to get her out of bed. A beautiful cup of chai latte later, she heads to her home gym.
At 8am, she meditates then goes through her daily schedule during breakfast.
What everyone has in common in each other is that they have a regular sleep schedule, regardless of what time they wake up. Weather it’s 4am or 8am, there is always at least 7–8 hours for a good night’s rejuvenation. Oprah hits the bed after a good bubble bath and a good amount of gratitude journaling.
Gratitude is Oprah’s way of keeping her mind focused on the good in her world. While the life of a billionaire can appear like a breeze, everyone has their own personalized problems. By being mindful of the positive things in her life, she is keeping herself away from the negativity.
Tim Cook is the most brutal when it comes to waking up early. He gets out of bed at 3:45am.
There’s a reason for the early rise — he gets about 700–800 emails a day.
This means he’s in bed by 8:45pm.
He tracks his daily activity on his Apple watch to make sure that he stays active. He also automated whatever he can into his routine. So when he says good morning to Siri, good old Siri starts brewing him his cup of coffee and turns on his lights for him. When he leaves his house, Siri locks the door and do whatever else she needs to do for him.
Personally, I’m going to trial the early wake up since that’s when the world is quietest. Recently, the baby is refusing to sleep for long periods unless I’m present. It’s part of her developmental leaps and separation anxiety is something she’ll eventually grow out of.
When the baby has had a good night sleep, she tends to be happier during the day and more likely to take naps. This means that my nights, which usually used to be available for work is now no longer there.
The earlier wake up time means that I’ll have time to do the things I need to do before everything starts.
I’ll also give doing chores at night a go as well. I find it quite draining throughout the day and to do it at night gives me a blank canvas to work with for the next day.
I don’t usually exercise at all but perhaps I’ll hit some YouTube exercise along vids to get me pumped up for the morning, which will justify my morning cold shower rather than a night time one.
Wearing a daily uniform is something I already have sorted. I noticed a few years back that I cycle through the same set of clothes without much thought or care about which particular one I wear. Whilst they’re not all the same, the sameness of what I wear on a week to week basis works on the same principle.
I’ll do an update in a few weeks on how it all went.
I am on a journey for balance and being time starved does not help my mission. By reestablishing a routine that works for me and baby will help me do the things I need to do and give me back control over my time.