Don’t we all dream of being wildly successful? It’s hard to achieve such success when you’re staying up late watching Netflix and sleeping in until 11am every day. Well, I decided I needed to make a change. Successful CEOs and founders of companies swear by their bizarre (and specific) daily routines and habits. I jumped in the deep end of success (hopefully), and I tried living like a CEO for a week.
Here’s what happened.
Wake up early.
A CEO gets up between 4:30am and 7am, so I settled for a happy medium of 6am.
Monday was by far the hardest day. I forgot about the bedtime I had set myself, so I went to bed late the night before. I definitely paid for it Monday morning. My alarm went off at 6:00am and I stumbled to grab a glass of water. By the time I got back into my bedroom, I had pretty much frozen my feet off. I tucked myself in quickly, read my emails, closed my eyes to meditate and I fell back asleep. Whoops. By the time I woke up at around 9am, I felt like I’d already wasted the morning. But, regardless, I got up and went about my day.
As the week went on, waking up early was still hard. Tuesday was a slow start (and a cold one, too) but it was a lot better than Monday. I eventually worked out that leaving my blinds open a little more made life a lot easier. When I’m in complete darkness, my body is so ready to go back to sleep and my mind just can’t resist. By the time Friday rolled around, my body seemed somewhat used to this strange routine.
Pretty much every article I read started with checking emails. As someone who gets like three emails a week, this probably wont be too time consuming for me.
Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, meditates for 30 minutes every morning, but a lot of other successful business people only meditate for 10. I decided to stick to the latter, just because I’m somewhat of an amateur at meditation.
I used the Headspace app, and it was great. The guy’s soothing voice made it really easy just to lay down and think about nothing at all. Despite my first set-back on Monday, the rest of the week was easy. Meditating was easy, and is definitely something I want to continue. Generally, it made me feel pretty relaxed. It allowed me to sort through my thoughts and I think it genuinely opened up my creative side.
Make the bed.
I mean, I do this anyway but it doesn’t hurt to add it all to the checklist, right? This was no hassle at all. No change of routine. Easy.
Pretty much every list had this on it, too. I didn’t exercise every day – just Tuesday and Thursday. It was hard. It’s so cold in winter, and it was so early that my body pretty much just rejected it. I went to the gym, used the exercise bike, and lifted some weights. It felt like I never really woke up until after I left.
Duh. Get hydrated. I’m really good at forgetting my basic needs, so I had to make sure I was having at least two glasses of water before breakfast.
Have a cold shower.
Zachary Rapp, the C0-Founder of Sigma Genetics, says that cold showers make him work better. The CEO of LaSalle Network, Tom Gimbel, says that it gives him adrenalin and energy to start the day. It’s worth a shot, I guess?
It was just as bad as I thought. I didn’t want to ease myself into it, because I knew I’d talk myself out of it. So, I started the water running and just jumped in. Thank GOD I didn’t have to wash my hair, because the one minute shower I had felt like HELL. I know I was supposed to feel full of adrenalin and energy – but I was just cold. I was excited to get out. Did I even wash myself properly? I don’t know. I was just being quick and (hopefully) efficient.
I didn’t wash my hair for the whole week, living off dry-shampoo and hope – hope that the week would end soon. The showers didn’t get easier – they just seemed to get colder, especially after the gym.
Coffee and breakfast.
Not every CEO actually eats breakfast but I’m trying to get in the rhythm of eating three meals a day, so I thought to include it just in case. After the cold shower, any kind of warmth was wanted. I subbed a coffee out for an almond-milk hot chocolate. I ate breakfast most days, and I felt much better when I did – coconut yogurt, paleo mix, a teaspoon of peanut butter, and some berries. Delicious. After being awake since 6am, I really needed the extra energy, so the food was really needed.
A CEO records their dreams – well, some do – and some might set their intentions for the day, or just write some positive affirmations and plan their day. I decided to use it to just write anything and everything. I planned out my un-eventful days, future trips, moving plans. As a writer, I just got all my creative juices out. Some days, it felt like a burden – I just wanted to watch Netflix or YouTube, browse Facebook, or go back to bed. Other days it was calming and nice. It was good having that habit as the week went on.
Read the news.
Because it’s an adult thing to do. It makes me sad, sometimes. I always leaned further towards feel-good stories because damn, it can be sad sometimes. It felt good being informed – I actually know about what’s going on in the world.
Read a book.
Because it’s a fun thing to do. I read for half an hour every day, and it was a nice way to escape life. The CEOs know what they’re doing.
Do your thing.
This is where a lot of CEOs commute to work, and then go do CEO things (who knows what that really is). I just packed for moving and travel, basically going about my pre-planned list (how convenient is journaling?)
Because food. Duh. Because I had planned my days well, I actually had time to cook. This was no issue for me – I enjoy cooking. Sometimes I just get lazy, but this little experiment encouraged me to cook (and actually eat at a reasonable time).
Journal and read, again.
Basically, detach from the internet. Reflect on the day. Enjoy a nice story. Just relax. It was a nice way to end each night. On Wednesday night, I had plans so this kind of got shifted out of the way. On Thursday, I worked until 10pm. By the time I got home, I was so tired from my early mornings that I didn’t even have a chance to read.
Clean up the house a bit.
A few CEOs enjoy doing the dishes before bed because it’s relaxing. After doing it for a week, it became a habit. I enjoyed waking up to a clean house, which encouraged me to quickly tidy before I snuggled into bed.
Bed by 10:30.
Sleep is still important. Considering how early I had been getting up, it wasn’t difficult to go to sleep so early. Once I had turned my devices off and got into my warm bed, it was easy to fall asleep.
So, I lived like a CEO for a week. Despite the cold-showers and awful wake up times, I feel… good? I feel refreshed, prepared, organised. I like routine, and it was good to finally force myself to have one. A lot of things aren’t for me (cleaning the house, waking up so early, freezing showers in the middle of winter), but I’d say generally this was a positive experience. The CEO life isn’t for me, but I see why they do it. I felt more productive and on-top of things. But yeah, I’d rather just sleep in.
Feature Image – Uproxx.