Jeff Bezos wakes up early and spends his mornings “puttering.” His first meeting is at 10 a.m.
He previously said that routine and eight hours’ sleep a night gives him energy to think better.I tried it for a few mornings. I felt more relaxed and organized, which made me better at my job.
It might surprise you to learn how one of the world’s richest men spends his morning.
Jeff Bezos said he likes to “putter.” He once said that he wakes up early, reads the newspaper, drinks coffee, and has breakfast with his children. He doesn’t hold his first meeting until 10 a.m. In a 2018 speech at the Washington Economic club, Bezos offered insight into his morning routine.
“My puttering time is important to me,” Bezos said. Along with getting eight hours of sleep a night, he said it gives him energy and helps his decision making.
There have been countless books written and studies exploring the benefits that can be wrought by slowing down, and learning to take more time for yourself. It’s no secret that doing stuff that makes you feel happy and more relaxed could have a knock-on effect on your performance at work.
I’ve started to feel like my relationship with work is becoming unhealthy. I’m six months into a new job, and eager to impress. I’ve found myself starting early and working late into the evening.
I often feel quite tired and find it hard to switch between tasks. I’ve stopped doing things I enjoy, like reading or playing my guitar as much as I used to and constantly feel like I’m putting off important life admin. Perhaps, approaching my mornings differently could help me find a better balance.
This meant more a mindset change than anything else. Rather than rushing to sit down and get to work at 7.30 a.m. or 8 a.m., I took it a bit slower and made sure I actually did things for myself before starting my day.
I’ve written enough about productivity in the past and the hacks associated with the likes of Elon Musk, Tony Hsieh, and Eric Schmidt to know that every individual works differently, and they need to fit your own routine.
On the first day, it was cold and I woke up several times during the night, so I prioritized getting a few extra hours of sleep in the morning. Then I went for a walk around the block and didn’t worry about sitting down to start work too quickly.
Other mornings, I woke up earlier and spent time washing up, reading, sorting urgent household bills, or just going for a longer morning walk. I’d start thinking about work at around 8 a.m. browsing the news and roughly planning my day while doing other things. But I didn’t properly sit down until nearer 9 a.m. My first meeting was at 10 a.m.
Looking back, at the end of the week, I definitely feel more organized. I had time to think and properly plan my day. I also felt more relaxed and generally less distracted during the work day because I was able to deal with any pressing life admin early on.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be more productive and doesn’t remove the pressing deadlines that come up at work, but I felt like it set me up better for the day, and I certainly didn’t feel less productive.
Now, there are some caveats.
It’s not possible to putter every day because sometimes there are just busy periods. This is something Bezos referred to when he said he doesn’t believe in work-life balance, but instead a work-life harmony.
It’s also not hard to see how the temptation to putter too much could seep into the rest of the work day. It required discipline to pull myself from the sofa and work. Working from home inevitably helped though.
On a more, broader point, not everyone has the luxury of being able to slow down. I’m lucky that I have a job that enables me to have relative control over my day; I have no caring responsibilities and an editor who gives me the freedom to putter around for the sake of a productivity feature.
Hopefully, though it can serve as a wider lesson, though: that it’s OK to try and take more time for yourself.