Daily Routines and Habits of Highly Productive People
Did you know that Mozart spent more than 12 hours a day on music? Or that Jack Dorsey divides his companies per departments, and works on each only at a specific day of the week? Today's successful entrepreneurs have their healthy habits, and famous people of the past had their fair share of odd routines - but one thing they all have in common is that they planned out their activities. Here are their daily routines and habits.
Daily routines and habits of successful contemporary people
Successful people's habits and their routines are responsible for making them successful in the first place, and here is a breakdown for some of them.
- During his tenure as president, Obama would wake up early, around 7 a.m.
- He'd exercise and then have breakfast with his family
- He'd head to the Oval Office at 9 a.m. and focus on his work
- After having dinner with his family, he'd continue working until around 11:30 p.m.
- He'd read for 30 minutes before going to bed at around midnight
Key benefit to Barack Obama's routine
- Obama seldom left for the office without engaging in exercises, and always had breakfast.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square
- Gets up at 5 a.m.
- Eats two hard boiled eggs with soy sauce for breakfast, works out and meditates.
- Makes coffee, and heads for the office to focus on work
- Goes to bed at 11 p.m.
- Used to dedicate 8 hours to each of his two companies everyday (which amounted to 16 hours per workday), but now he mostly focuses on Square
He parses his work according to days, so he has more of a weekly routine, than a daily one:
- Mondays - managing his company
- Tuesdays - product-related activities
- Wednesdays - working on marketing
- Thursdays - working with developers and partners
- Fridays - recruiting new people and working on company culture
- Saturdays - free of work, Dorsey goes on hikes to relax and unwind
- Sundays - time spent on strategies for next week and reflecting on the previous week
Key benefit to Jack Dorsey's routine
- Even with often interruptions, when you have one area to work on for the entire day, you'll maintain focus, because you'll only have one job to focus on in the first place - that's exactly what Dorsey does.
- After 6 hours of sleep, Musk wakes up at about 7 a.m.
- He doesn't eat breakfast, but he always takes a shower
- Avoids phone calls and minimizes time spent on managing his inbox
- While working, he parses his time in 5 minute blocks - he aims at finishing each of his tasks in 5 minutes or less
- Eats his meals later in the day - he usually blocks 5 minutes for each meal
- Goes to the gym at least once per week
- Goes to bed at around 1 a.m.
- Taking a shower during the day is great for productivity, according to research
- Parsing work into smaller chunks, for easier management and better control
- Minimizing phone call and inbox management time
- He takes into account the notion that our energy levels drop at some point during the day, so we can no longer maintain necessary focus on important matters
- First thing in the morning, when his ability to focus is at its peak, Williams engages in work
- He goes to the gym in the middle of they day, usually mid-mornings or later in the afternoon
- He goes back to work after the gym
- Williams takes into account his most productive and less productive times, and allocates his work-time and gym-time accordingly
- She gets up at 5 a.m., to eat breakfast with her husband half an hour later
- She cycles to the office
- In the afternoons, she engages in exercises
- She sometimes reads books from libraries as leisure time, goes to museums, works in her garden
- Her sleep time varies, but she has said that she can get by with only 4 hours a sleep at night
- She finds time for physical activities and always eats breakfast.
- She wakes up at 6:20 a.m. and drinks tea, or a cappuccino at 6:45 a.m.
- At 7 a.m. she works out, and meditates at about 8 a.m.
- She eats breakfast at 8:30 a.m. - it's usually boiled eggs and toast
- Focuses on her work from 9 a.m. to noon, and again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- She has lunch at 1 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m.
- She does some reading at 8 p.m. and is asleep by 10:15 p.m.
- Exercising, working out, meditation and having breakfast in the morning
- Places great emphasis on his morning routine
- Wakes up early, at 4:30 a.m. and then drinks water
- Decides on the three most important things he has to do for the given day; these are his priorities
- He makes lunch for him and his children
- Does some reading, eats breakfast
- Meditates (on Fridays) engages in various exercise (on other days)
- Takes a shower and then wakes up his family at 6:30 a.m.
- Babauta makes sure he's hydrated, has had his breakfast and exercised, which are all beneficial activities, and he manages to perform them before 6:30 in the morning.
- Deciding on his priorities for the day, for better time management
- Had a sleeping schedule from 9 p.m. to a little before 4 a.m. - after waking up, he'd spend the next hour meditating
- His work took place only between 7 a.m. and 12 p.m.
- Had one of the more unusual exercising routines - he'd walk up and down his garden from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Slept only from midnight to 4 a.m. everyday.
- Had one of the longer creative work hours, ranging from the moment he wakes up, until noon - he'd spend this time dictating his thoughts to a secretary. This is a habit he shared with Winston Churchill, who also did a lot of his work from bed, dictating to his secretary.
- He'd then get dressed, and work until 2 p.m.
- He'd also work from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and from 9:30 p.m. until midnight
- Preferred working at night - he'd write from 11 p.m. until 5:30 a.m.
- Had issues falling asleep - he only managed to sleep between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.
- Working at the Workers' Accident Insurance Institute from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. - of the listed people, he had one of the more prominent day jobs.
- After a short lunch, he'd catch up on his sleep from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Always aimed at self-improvement - he once maintained a 13-week challenge to improve his virtues
- He'd wake up at 5 a.m. and make the resolution on what he'll do today
- He'd work from 8 a.m. until noon, and again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- He'd spend the time from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. socializing and listening to music
- Before going to sleep at 10 p.m., he'd ask himself about what good he managed to do today
- He'd also take a cold air bath everyday.
- A real night owl - he'd paint until 2:30 a.m.
- He'd sleep from 2:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.
- From 11a.m. until 3 p.m., he'd have breakfast and spend some time socializing with his friends
- He'd then paint from 3 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.
- Slept only from 1 a.m. to some time past 5 a.m., because he was too focused on music for the rest of the day - he'd dedicate 12 and a half hours to music-related activities
- He'd compose from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
- From 4:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. he'd compose or hold a concert
- From 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. he'd give music lessons to his students
- Slept from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- Had coffee from 6 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. - always 60 beans of coffee per cup
- Composing from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. - he'd often take breaks to take a walk, a practice that helped his composing
- The time from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. he'd spend on various meals
- Slept from 10 p.m. until 5:30 a.m.
- Worked on her writing from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. - she'd always rent out a hotel room for this purpose
- From 7:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., she'd read what she had written that day to her husband
- From 1 a.m. until 7 a.m. he'd sleep
- As soon as he would wake, it'd be time for breakfast and trimming his famous beard, activities he'd focus on until 8 a.m.
- He'd treat his patients from 8 a.m. until noon; he'd treat and consult them again, from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.
- From 2 p.m. until 3 p.m., he'd go for a fast walk
- He'd sleep from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.
- He'd write from 6:30 a.m. until 11 a.m., and he'd also write from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- After work, it'd be time for his hour-long ice bath he'd take on the roof
- From 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., he'd engage in difficult exercises
- He'd then visit the barber (3 p.m. - 4 p.m.), and his mistress (4 p.m. - 6 p.m.)
- From 8 p.m until bedtime, he'd have dinner, enjoy some card games, or go out
- After 5 a.m. - some get up and prepare for work, but the majority is still asleep
- 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. - wake up time for most; time to to start the morning routines which may includes breakfast, and a commute to work. The average time Americans wake up is 7:08 a.m. and it takes them about 25 minutes to get to work. Before a commute to work, about 47% of Americans eat breakfast.
- After 10 a.m. - the busiest time for work and housework - the peak time for productivity happens around 11 a.m.
- 12 a.m. - 1 p.m. - most have lunch at this time, and most have lunch at their desks.
- After 1 p.m. - more work time, before a coffee break that usually happens somewhere between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Around 5 p.m. - most people finish work, and head home. About 21% of Americans go out for a drink with their colleagues after work.Although it is recommended, about 80% of Americans don't engage in recommended physical activity.
- After 5 p.m. - time to make dinner, or plan an evening out
- 6 p.m. - most have dinner at this time
- 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. - time for socialization with family and friends, and time to spend on hobbies or relaxing
- After 10 p.m. - people focus on their personal care, and get ready for bed
- 12 a.m. - most people are already asleep, and according to one research Americans usually go to bed around 11:40 p.m.
- After 3 a.m - only 4% will remain up.
- Half of them skip breakfast
- Only about 20% engages in regular exercises
- Get up early
- Go to bed at a reasonable time
- Socialize with friends and family
- Make some time for their hobbies and relaxation
- Hold to a certain routine
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
Key benefits to Elon Musk's routine
Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter, Blogger, and Medium
Key benefit to Evan Williams' routine
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Key benefits to Angela Merkel's routine
Key benefits to Oprah Winfrey's routine
Leo Babauta, creator of Zen Habits
Key benefit to Leo Babauta's routine
What highly productive people have in common
Highly productive follow routines, make and adhere to strict schedules, get up early, eat breakfast, and exercise.
Adhere to strict schedules, hold on to their habits, and follow routines
Their daily routines don't differ much between days, and they don't let distractions get in the way of their success - they focus on following their routines.
Get up early
All successful entrepreneurs like to get up early in the morning, usually before 7 a.m. - this way, they don't have to head straight to work, but have time to shower, have breakfast, meditate, work out and otherwise prepare for their daily workload.
Most of them exercise in the morning, before heading out, but Evan Williams shows that you can plan your workouts according to your productivity peak hours - if you're most productive in the morning, work on mornings, and move workouts for later in the day.
Apart from Musk who skips breakfast in favor of other activities, all the other mentioned successful people have breakfast as a must on their daily schedules. This helps them gain a initial boost of energy to help tackle their daily workload.
Parse their day according to activities
Making and following a schedule means you've already allocated specific time to each activity, and some entrepreneurs take this to the next level - Musk is famed for his 5- minute blocks of time that help him parse his daily activities into manageable chunks.
The daily routines of famous people through history
Although successful people of today follow similar routines (waking up early, eating breakfast and exercising), famous people of the past show us that disregarding this formula doesn't mean you can't be successful and productive with your work. It's important to find a routine that works for you.
These interesting daily routines and habits of famous people through history include unusual sleeping patterns, eating habits, and exercising regimes - and yet, they still managed to become successful writers, poets, physicians, scientists, politicians, painters and composers.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Despite their widely different routines, the one thing all creative people from the past had in common was that they had routines in the first place. Most of them also did some form of exercise, socialized with friends and family, and worked on their skills and talents everyday.
Their sometimes unusual sleep, eating and exercise habits helped them stay on track with their work, in their own unique ways - they prove that everyone can be successful, no matter the schedule, just as long as they have one that works for them and stick to it.
For more interesting daily routines and habits of people from the past, check out the Daily Rituals: How Artists Work book by Mason Currey.
A day in the life of an American
When it comes to daily habits and routines in the life of an American, this is how the day of a typical American flowed in 2014 according to the American Time Use Survey:
For a great animated representation of a typical day in terms of daily routines and habits, based on the American Time Use Survey, check out Nathan Yau's visual timeuse simulation.
Productivity showdown: an average Joe vs a famous person
When compared to successful people of the past and present, you'll see that American daily habits and routines don't stack up well in some areas:
However, most do: