Jeff Bezos is in charge of a lot. He's the CEO of Amazon — a company that is producing movies, developing A.I. voice technology and operating a grocery store in addition to remaking the e-commerce landscape — and he's the founder of Blue Origin and the owner of The Washington Post.
Surprisingly, his days aren't rushed. Instead, Bezos takes time to rest, recharge and make decisions carefully, he told the audience at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. on September 13. Here's what a typical day for Bezos looks like.
He wakes up early
"I go to bed early, I get up early," Bezos said at the event.
Other CEOs are known to wake up before the sun: Apple CEO Tim Cook is awake at 3:45 a.m., while Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi are up by 4.
He "putters" and eats breakfast with his family
Once he's up, Bezos takes some time for himself: "I like to putter in the mornings," he said.
"I like to read the newspaper, I like to have coffee, I like to have breakfast with my kids before they go to school," Bezos explained. "My puttering time is very important to me."
Bezos has been known to make mighty breakfasts, he once cooked up blueberry-chocolate chip pancakes for husband and wife duo Seattle Seahawks player Russell Wilson and singer/songwriter Ciara.
And, he's often in charge of doing dishes.
Bezos could be on to something: Taking time to "putter," cook, or clean up, may be useful for creativity, according to a study by the University of California, Santa Barbara. Spending time on mindless tasks allowed the mind to wander and be more creative, researchers found.
He starts with his most important meetings
When Bezos is ready to turn to business, he devotes all of his focus to Amazon: "I set my first meeting for 10 a.m.," he explains.
The first meetings of the day are the ones that require the most brain power.
"I like to do my high IQ meetings before lunch, like anything that's going to be really mentally challenging, that's a 10:00 a.m. meeting," he says.
According to a study by biologist Christoph Randler, "People whose performance peaks in the morning are better positioned for career success, because they're more proactive than people who are at their best in the evening."
He draws a line when he's tired
At the end of the day, Bezos tries to avoid making decisions. "By 5:00 p.m., I'm like 'I can't think about this today, let's try that again tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.,'" Bezos says with a laugh.
Making thoughtful choices often becomes harder and harder throughout the day due to decision fatigue.
"Once you're mentally depleted, you become reluctant to make trade-offs, which involve a particularly advanced and taxing form of decision making," The New York Times explains of the phenomenon.
He makes sure to get enough sleep
To be as effective at making decisions as possible, Bezos also prioritizes sleep.
"I get eight hours of sleep, unless I'm traveling in different time zones," he explains. "Sometimes it's impossible but I am very focused on it. For me, I need eight hours of sleep. I think better, I have more energy, my mood is better, all these things."
Indeed, it's part of Bezos' "work-life" harmony concept.
It's all about setting himself up for success
"Think about it, as a senior executive, what do you really get paid to do?" Bezos says. "As a senior executive, you get paid to make a small number of high quality decisions. Your job is not to make thousands of decisions every day."
The way he sees it, if you don't take care of yourself, "[the] quality of those decisions might be lower because you're tired or grouchy or any number of things."
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