It’s tempting to think that what works for them could work for us too, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The way one person decides to carry out their working day won’t always fit in with our own lifestyle, physical or mental health. So what we learn from the tips given by some of the biggest people in business?
You might not be surprised to know that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg checks all his social channels immediately upon waking. Although this may help him prepare for the day by quickly understanding any priorities, starting the day with intense screen time – particularly on a mobile – can be more damaging than we think. Studies have shown the impact of social media on our mental health generally, but we also have to allow our brains to wake up properly – and naturally – in a morning, to prevent not only potential eye damage but burnout too. It is vital for our wellbeing that as much as possible, we start our day without over-stimulating our brains with technology. Studies have also shown a correlation between frequent email-checking and higher rates of stress.
Jack Dorsey, CEO and Founder/Co-Founder of Square and Twitter, has said that he puts in eight-hour days at each of his two companies. This means his 16-hour days add up to an 80-hour week; far more than the optimal amount we should be working in order to stay productive, as well as mentally and physically healthy. Studies have shown that working for extended periods – over 48 hours per week – can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing, with increased stress and links to heart disorders such as cardiovascular disease.
Dharmesh Shah, Founder & CTO of HubSpot, doesn’t go to bed until 2-3am, often continuing to code until he finally calls it a day. While there is no doubt some mental relief in completing the day’s tasks before calling it a night, there can be serious side effects to not getting sufficient sleep. The NHS confirm that we generally need around eight hours a night is healthy, with some slightly more or less. If we lose out on the rest we need for our own bodies to function properly, we’re at risk of various conditions and disorders including heart disease and diabetes, depression and anxiety, while our life expectancy is also hindered. As with the guidelines around avoiding screens upon waking, it is also harmful to use technology right up until bedtime, as our brains will struggle to shut down naturally and enjoy truly restful sleep.
Elon Musk micro-schedules his day in five-minute intervals, editing as he goes along so that he is always working at his most efficient. Indeed, there are benefits to making optimal use of our day in that it may free us from unnecessary stress and avoid taking work obligations into our leisure time. However, we must allow for some flexibility and working to such a strict schedule means that we’re not letting life just happen, which can cause untoward strain if anything unexpected should arise. Becoming over-fixated on sticking to schedules and routines therefore risks over-producing the stress hormone cortisol, which although vital in providing us with energy to handle stressful situations in the short-term, can be damaging in the long-term. It is made to handle flight-or-flight situations, so when we’re constantly under threat of long-term stress, cortisol is present for longer and can increase our risk of anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease and more.
American blogger and author Joel Runyon believes so much in the idea of starting the day with a cold shower, he delivered a TEDx talk on their power. It’s true that the ‘positive stress’ caused by shocking our body can help us to mentally prepare for whatever challenges the day throws up, while other benefits of turning down the temperature are slated to include improved metabolism and immune system, and reduced symptoms of depression. However, cold showers shouldn’t be used as a complete replacement for warm ones – heat can help relieve stiff muscles and soreness, which itself can impact our mood if left undealt with. It has been shown that warm showers can help with anxiety too, as they increase our oxytocin levels. Don’t forget too, that if you’re poorly – particularly in winter –the steam from warm showers is a natural decongestant, so you’re better off not neglecting them.
Richard McVey, lifestyle coach at Bupa, said “There are many things we can do to maintain a healthy daily routine and with that, of course, comes a healthy mind. Keeping up regular practices in our working week can help us to stay on track with all of life’s responsibilities, better manage our workloads and ensure we have enough energy to take on each day. However, we must exercise moderation and allow life to happen too; we must also apply what is best for our own bodies and lives, rather than copying and pasting the routines of others.”