The greatest entrepreneurs tend to personify a couple of traits you might not immediately connect with the cliché of the cigar-chomping businessman: creativity and scheduling!
All too often, creativity is pushed aside as something for artists to take care of, while scheduling feels like an awfully dull and unimportant pursuit for someone who dreams of butlers, big cars, and gold – so much gold.
But outside of the cartoon realm, creativity and scheduling are near-essential strongpoints for business people to nurture. You don’t need to become a painter or open an Excel sheet to check your 48-point daily to-do list every day, but it is a distinct advantage if you can picture multiple possibilities, imagine your way around problems, and know-how and when you’re going to get things done (including the vital business of self-care, relaxing, and family time).
We’ve got a lot to learn from creative people, including creative businesspeople, in how we structure our days. You don’t have to write down what you expect to do each hour, but having a sense of pattern and discipline is – perversely – an excellent way to allow your creativity to flow.
The people at BodyLogicMD have put together an interactive guide to some such women’s daily routines. And it is an eye-opener to see business leaders head-to-head with great authors and painters.
Take a look at Oprah Winfrey’s schedule, for example. It is a testament to her hard work and imagination that she is in a position to live such a pleasant and generous schedule every day. Winfrey was born in Mississippi in the 1950s to a teenage single mum. She was abused by male members of her family, and herself fell pregnant as a teenager.
From this unlikely start, Winfrey bounced back to become North America’s first black multi-billionaire. Today she is at retirement age but unlikely to stop work any time soon. All the same, she prioritizes her health by rising early to walk the dogs, exercise, and meditate. Winfrey tends to take the morning off, eating lunch with her partner using food only grown on her own property. In the afternoon, work can begin – although Winfrey may invite interesting people over for a leisurely lunch with just a hint of networking.
After lunch, Winfrey concentrates on business responsibilities such as financial transactions and meeting with editors and creatives from her magazine and from the movies with which she is involved. She tries to get it done in a couple of hours so she can get back to exercising. As a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Winfrey gets to vote on the Oscars, so some evenings in the year are spent watching movies to assess for their qualities. Nice work if you can get it! Stuff like this is not only a pleasant way to work but a great way to maintain Winfrey’s status as a producer and expert.
Martha Stewart is another early-riser. The businesswoman and TV presenter is now long past retirement age, but like Winfrey, she has built her business doing what she loves – and indeed, the lifestyle element is impossible to escape, so she may as well make a living from it! After exercise, time with her plants and dogs, and healthy breakfast, Stewart has the luxury of a driver to take her to the city. This gives her a chance to get some of the day’s admin chores out of the way – just one more reason why it makes more sense to commute without your hands on the wheel, i.e. by train if possible.
Stewart reaches the office around 9 am and hits the emails and calls on her tablet and phone. She holds daily operations meeting with her executives at 10.30, an excellent chance to make sure everything is on track and meets her vision even if she is slowly stepping back from the front line.
The afternoon is dedicated to media appearances, and Stewart combines work with pleasure with sociable evenings at home. Interestingly, she picks up work again just before bedtime to write memos before she turns in for the night. It’s not a smart idea to use your electronic device for this since the light can interfere with your sleep patterns. But emptying your brain by creating to-do lists before you switch off may help you have a better night’s sleep.
That’s good, because even reading about these highly-driven businesswomen may be exhausting!
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