On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore the routines, schedules, habits and typical day in their life.
Unlike his precedecssor, Bill Clinton who typically led an unstructured day and was late to most of his appointments, and compared to Barack Obama, who preferred working in the late hours of the night, George W. Bush prioritised structure, routine and early mornings during his presidency.
As a creature of habit, the 43rd President of the United States woke up at 5am every day and would be in the Oval Office for early morning briefings. “I go to work a little before 7 a.m., and I expect everybody to show up on time when I have a meeting,” Bush said in an interview with Runner’s World. A 2008 New York Times profile featured a typical morning for Bush as described by White House Press Secretary Dana Perino:
Mr. Bush has always been an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of guy, and he typically arrives at the Oval Office by 6:45 a.m., Ms. Perino said, for briefings from his national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, and chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten. He holds regular secure video-conferences with various world leaders, among them the president of Afghanistan and the prime minister of Iraq.Bush in the Background | The New York Times
At midday, Bush would take a break for a workout — usually jogging or cycling, he ran the ran the Houston Marathon before becoming president — which was then followed by lunch with a revolving cast of characters, including VP Dick Cheney, former counselor Dan Bartlett, political strategist Karl Rove, or Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson. “He’s a fast eater – always ready to get back to work,” Perino told The New York Times.
Bush valued efficiency above all else and expected nothing less from his administration. “He’s a fanatic about being on time,” said president adviser Mark McKinnon to the Baltimore Sun. “His view is that it’s rude if you’re not on time.”
In a 2002 interview, Bush explained his need for punctuality, and how running helps him form discipline, “I’m a person who believes in punctuality. That’s a discipline. I expect the White House staff to be on time and sharp and to exercise. And in my case, running helps me keep that discipline.”
“Running also breaks up my day and allows me to recharge my batteries. Running also enables me to set goals and push myself toward those goals. In essence, it keeps me young.”
At around 5.30-6pm, Bush would wrap up his workday and make his way home. “A social event or quiet evening at home after dinner, maybe swatting tennis balls outside for his springer spaniel, Spot, to fetch,” as reported by The Baltimore Sun. “Bed is generally no later than 10. If guests are over, they’re politely nudged to the door. Eight hours of sleep is also inviolable.”
On the subject of sleep, Terral Smith, who served as Bush’s legislative director when he was a Governor in Texas explained that it was important the president got his 8-hours of sleep, otherwise he wouldn’t be able function as well. “We could tell if he hadn’t gotten eight hours of sleep. He wasn’t as sharp,” Smith said. “He’d be in a press conference, and it was clear he wasn’t thinking as quickly. It affects his quickness.”
After leaving the presidency in 2009, Bush and his wife Laura, returned to Dallas, Texas, where the couple settled down in their new home, a 1.13-acre property located in Preston Hollow.
A 2009 Washington Post profile described a typical day for Bush in post-presidency life:
The Bushes have settled into a new routine at home, even as they write their own books and travel to give occasional speeches. Laura shops for furniture with Ken Blasingame, her friend and decorator, and plans to practice yoga. The former president tests new mountain biking trials and monitors his heart rate while he rides. Laura returned to Washington last month to speak at the funeral of a former White House employee but left hours later. Her husband stays in touch with former aides by e-mailing on his BlackBerry, a new toy.Bush Goes from Pennsylvania ave. to a more simple life in the lone star state | The Washington Post
Before you go…
Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.