Learn from the Pros: 5 Daily Habits of the World’s Most Successful CEOs

Have you ever wondered what the world’s most successful CEOs do in their daily lives? Do they deprive themselves of sleep? Do they spend all of their time in the office?  We peered into the routines of world’s most successful CEOs and found that most of them have five daily habits in common. We’re not saying you have to emulate their habits exactly, but if you are trying to grow your business it might help to tweak a few of your habits.

They are early risers…

Unsurprisingly, we found that most, if not all, of the world’s most successful CEOs are early risers. For instance, Apple CEO Tim Cook “Wakes up at 3:45 every morning–yes, every morning”. He then does email for an hour, stealing a march on those lazy East Coasters three time zones ahead of him, then goes to the gym, visits Starbucks for more email, then finally to the office to work. ‘The thing about it is, when you love what you do, you don’t really think of it as work. It’s what you do. And that’s the good fortune of where I find myself,” according to Time.

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, also starts his day early; he begins around 5:00 a.m. to “Workout, read, and tinker with the site, and hang out with his middle daughter,” according to the Guardian. And Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, starts her day around 5:15 a.m. and uses the time to get caught up on emails or fit in a workout, according to Business Insider.

As studies show, people who start their day early are more proactive and more productive, so try learning from the pros and start your day early – you’ll get more things done.

…But they don’t deprive themselves of sleep

Many of the world’s most successful CEOs also make it a priority to get enough hours of sleep. For instance, Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of the Huffington Post, once collapsed from sleep deprivation because of her 18-hour work days. She now says,  “My single most-effective trick for getting things done is to stop doing what I’m doing and get some sleep. There is nothing that negatively affects my productivity and efficiency more than lack of sleep. After years of burning the candle on both ends, my eyes have been opened to the value of getting some serious shut-eye.”

Huffington is not the only one who considers a good night’s sleep a necessity for success. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, said in a Product Hunt AMA, “I sleep from 11-5a usually. Blackout shades help. Meditation and exercise!”

If you are staying up late every night trying to get more work done, you might want to reconsider that habit. Sleep deprivation can cause many issues, including depression, accidents, and a myriad of health problems. Take a lesson from Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo, who in 2014 missed an important dinner with top executives because she took a nap. At that point, she had been awake for 20 hours and felt that she would be ineffective without some sleep.

They exercise their minds…

In addition to starting the day early and getting enough sleep, the world’s most successful CEOs also have voracious reading habits. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, for example, reads every night and makes his way through about 50 books every year. He wrote on his blog, “Reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic. I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading.”

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet also finds time to read. He would read up to 1,000 pages a day when he started his investing career and still dedicates about 80% of each day to reading.

If reading seems like a waste of time to you, consider this: studies show that people who read a lot are more likely to be successful. The next time you make your to-do list, try adding a book to the list. You might learn something valuable.

…and they exercise their bodies regularly

The average person does not get the recommended amount of exercise each week. However, the world’s most successful CEOs make sure they include exercise into their daily routines. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said during a Q&A session on Facebook, “Staying in shape is very important. Doing anything well requires energy, and you just have a lot more energy when you’re fit.” Zuckerberg likes to work out at least three times a week. He claims that it’s the first part of his morning routine.

Like Zuckerberg, CEO of Virgin Group Richard Branson also includes exercise into his daily routine. Branson begins each day at 5:00 am and starts it with exercise. He is devoted to both running and cycling and told FourYourBodyPress, “I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit. It keeps the brain functioning well.”  

A study published in the Journal Labor of Research shows that employees who work out regularly earn 9% more than those who don’t exercise at all. If you add exercise to your routine, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll have more energy to complete your daily tasks.  It may also help you be more productive than your less active co-workers.

 They know when to unwind

Managing a company can be stressful, and you’ll find that the world’s most successful CEOs find time to meditate. Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, for instance, started to meditate because he says his job at Oracle was so demanding.

He told the San Francisco Chronicle “I enjoy meditation, which I’ve been doing for over a decade — probably to help relieve the stress I what as going through when I was working at Oracle.” Meditation can not only help you relieve stress, but it can help you sleep better, and improve the quality of life for you and those around you, and much more. Marc Benioff, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Dorsey, Arianna Huffington and many other business leaders utilize meditation to great effect.

Have you upgraded your daily to-do list yet?