April 28, 2010

Famous people have strange work habits

Nate (@natelowry) pointed me at an interesting article detailing the daily routines of 25 famous thinkers. The article (from onlinecollege.org) gives a few details into the lives people like C.S. Lewis, Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill.

I really like articles like these. They are short, interesting and give the reader a sense of attachment with the people they are reading about. It reminds me of the book series On the John University. The books contain short passages to be read on the john (hence the name). Content in this form is intriguing, educational and just the right length.

Some of the people mentioned in the article match their routines very well. Barack Obama is on a strict schedule all day, but still eats breakfast and dinner with his family. Charles Darwin kept a very tight schedule as well. Ernest Hemingway, in contrast, is much different. He would write until he had said what he needed to say. That would be a dream job for a man of few words.

My favorite daily routine was Winston Churchill's. He would get up at 7:30 am but not leave bed until 11. during this time he would eat breakfast, read and dictate to secretaries. He would work for the rest of the day (squeezing in a 2.5 hour working lunch). After a post work nap, Churchill would have dinner and socialize until roughly midnight. He would then get some more work done before bed.

Here is how I think it went down. Churchill woke up every morning (hungover) at 7:30 am. After getting out of bed (and his first cocktail) he would work until lunch. Lunch always ran long (more drinks) and he was out of the office by 5 pm (happy hour). After a quick nap, Churchill would entertain dinner guests (Does whiskey count as a guest?) well into the night. After realizing that he should get some last minute work done, he buckles down and finishes his day (by passing out at his desk).

I had a few takeaways from this interesting article:
  • Get up early. Anyone who is getting anything done gets up very early.
  • Take time for non-work. It is surprising how much time these great thinkers spend not working.


  1. "Get up early. Anyone who is getting anything done gets up very early."

    I have tried no less than 10 times to implement an early-morning routine. You've inspired #11.

    Good Stuff Nick!

  2. Hopefully the 11th time was the charm.