by Luke Doyle
What kind of daily schedule makes for a lifetime of success? Up-and-coming entrepreneurs tend to imagine the workflows of successful business leaders to be fraught with non-stop hard work. Sure, most are not strangers to the all-nighter, the six or seven-day week, or the inevitable sticky keyboard that comes with eating takeaway without dropping tools. But great leaders understand the value of rest and self-care for productivity, too.
They recognize that taking a break, eating properly, and even the ritual of cooking for yourself, are good for inspiration and drive. Creative business leaders and those in the lifestyle sector such as Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey get this more than most.
How do they structure their days for success?
Stewart and Winfrey both balance healthy living with a wide range of professional demands on their time. And the trick in each case is that they make the most of the morning, in order to make sure certain self-care and positive living rituals are not so much ticked-off as heartily-embraced before the day’s business gets in the way.
Martha Stewart wakes at 5am and the first thing she does is fill her lungs with air and stretch her legs by taking the dogs for a walk. Like many of us, though, she checks her email before breakfast, and verifies that her latest blog posts are looking good online. Then it’s back to taking care of the important things: Yoga, a juice blend, and watering the plants.
The lifestyle guru has the luxury of a personal driver so she can get things done on the way to the city. But there’s no reason why regular mortals shouldn’t complete tasks and rituals such as phone calls, memos, and reading the news, if they opt to take the train instead of driving. Commuting by train is better for the environment too.
Stewart’s day is bookended with meetings, leaving the middle free to record her radio show and TV spots. This means she can get a real sense of working through stuff during that creative middle section of the day but still remain fresh to instruct and collaborate with her army of executives.
Dealing personally with arrangements for entertaining and socializing in the evening ensures that Stewart retains her sense of a healthy work-life balance – which may explain why she’s still so active as she fast approaches 80 years of age!
Oprah Winfrey also walks her dogs before doing much else in the morning. But for her it’s a (self-made, naturally) coffee rather than juice, and meditation before yoga. Winfrey manages to mix work and pleasure at lunchtime, ‘networking’ with invited guests who she’d like to get to know better (Jennifer Lawrence, Chrissy Metz, Princess Ameerah of Saudi Arabia…).
It is important to rest and eat properly at lunch to maintain energy levels. But if you really can’t bear to see that hour slip away unexploited then a working lunch, away from the desk, and with a social emphasis, is a great chance to get to know your colleagues or industry contemporaries a bit better.
Winfrey uses the period after lunch to crack on through necessary but boring tasks – money transfers, emails, other business – in order to free up the afternoon for reading and exercise, including more dog-walking. Funnily enough, she far prefers reading to movies and “can go for weeks without turning on the TV.” Like TV, though, movies is work for Oprah. Not bad work, huh?
While Winfrey and Stewart undoubtedly had tougher schedules at earlier points of their careers, looking at the way they arrange their day shines light on some of the ideals that we should all be striving for.