Sat, Apr 06, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Rise and shine: When top CEOs start their day

To get an insight into how high achievers organize their lives, The Guardian asked seven top businesspeople to run us through their working day. The bad news? A very early start is the key to success

By Patrick Kingsley and Laura Barnett  /  The Guardian

Illustration: Lance Liu

Tim Armstrong

Chief executive officer, AOL.

Gets up at 5am.

How and when does your morning start?

I usually get up at 5am or 5:15am. Historically, I would start sending e-mails when I got up. However, not everyone is on my time schedule, so I have tried to wait until 7am. Before I e-mail, I work out, read and use our products. By 7am, I usually have questions or feedback about AOL. I am not a big sleeper. Life is too exciting to sleep. [Huffington Post co-founder] Arianna Huffington is preaching sleep to me all the time, but I will need a DNA transplant to adhere to her advice. She is right, but I just cannot do it. I have three kids and my middle daughter (aged nine) has my sleep DNA, so she gets up and I drink coffee and she tells me about her life.

When you wake up, do you leap out of bed immediately?


What time are you at your desk?

My desk starts the minute I leave my house. I have a driver and my commute is a little over an hour. I am very productive in the car.

Do you e-mail throughout the day?

I do most e-mails in the morning, during the commute and late at night. When I am at the office I try to listen and learn.

Do you have a secret e-mail address?

No. Do you?

What time do you go home?

Most days about 7pm and I get home at 8pm or just after. When I get home, I try to read my two daughters a book. They usually win and get two or three books. I eat dinner with my wife; she is a gourmet cook and her food beats most of the best restaurants in New York. After dinner, I play Nerf hoops with my 11-year-old son — full contact, losers out and no hanging on the rim.

What time do you go to bed?

Most nights about 11pm. Can be later if I have a dinner in the city.

How much sleep do you get?

I try to get six hours. I can operate on less, but it is not ideal.

What is your weekend like?

Friday night is family movie night. Saturday is sports with kids. I am coaching my son’s fifth grade basketball team on Saturday and Sunday and it is my favorite thing all week. Saturday night is date night with my wife and sometimes dinner with friends. Sundays are church, basketball and work, starting at 7pm — calls and e-mails.

Jayne-Ann Gadhia

Chief executive officer, Virgin Money.

Gets up at 6:20am.

How and when does your morning start?

Left to my own devices, which means assuming I do not have to travel, I get up every day at 6:20am. No alarm. That is just when I wake up every morning, weekends too. First thing I do is look at my e-mails and answer. I cannot stand having any not done. Then I look at the BBC news Web site, then Twitter. If that counts as an early start, I do it because I always like to be on top of work so I can enjoy the non-work stuff, like having breakfast with the family and talking to my daughter on the way to school, rather than being distracted by work. So it sort of helps me have a normal life.

What time are you at your desk?

If I am working in my home city of Edinburgh I am at my desk by 8:30am, having dropped Amy off at school. I e-mail all the time. It used to drive me mad, but that is now the way I keep on top of things. Multitasking has become essential as far as I can see. I do have a separate private e-mail address that fewer people know — but that gets quite busy too these days.

What time do you go home?

I try to be home by 7pm. If I am away I work until about 10pm — again, that is a way of not letting things encroach on normal life too much. I do work from home in the evening, but usually only in a multitasking sort of way. I certainly do not sit at a desk.

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