On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore the routines, schedules, habits and typical day in their life.
In our 1000+ conversations about work, life & balance, we’ve been asking people, “if you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?” One of the most popular answers is New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, alongside Barack and Michelle Obama.
There’s no real surprise there. As the world’s second elected head of government to give birth while in office, Ardern is a leadership role model for women, and men, around the world. Widely praised for the her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in NZ, Ardern has also suggested a four day work week as a more productive and flexible solution moving forward.
I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day workweek. Ultimately that really sits between employers and employees. But as I’ve said there’s just so much we’ve learnt about Covid and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that.Jacinda Ardern flags four-day working week as way to rebuild New Zealand after Covid-19 | THe Guardian
In May 2019, as a way to show more transparency, the NZ government released the Prime Minister’s schedule. Here’s what Jacinda Ardern’s daily routine typically looks like.
According to the diary, she spends 19 hours a week at diaried appointments, made up of meetings, media interviews, government commitments -cabinet meetings, Question Time in parliament, etc. – speeches, public appearances and more. That’s not including the various “appointments related to personal, party political, parliamentary or constituency roles” which would no doubt take up a considerable amount of her time.
With travel factored in, Ardern’s day can begin as early as 6am and finish as late as 10.30pm, with a “considerable volumes of reading required outside those times,” a spokesperson for the Prime Minster said. As a result of her incredibly busy schedule, Ardern doesn’t get to spend as much as time with her daughter, Neve, as she’d like.
“Some days I’ll only see Neve once a day. Sometimes I won’t see her at all. Sometimes I won’t see her for a couple of days,” she said. “That’s hard. But I consider myself lucky to have as much support as I do. We’re just trying to juggle life. And I’m not going to pretend we’re perfect at that.”
One of the benefits of being a respected world leader is that your network of friends, who you can turn to for advice, reaches another level. Ardern reached out to Barack Obama to learn more about how he juggled domestic life with the powerful job in the world, as well as how he handled the guilt of not spending enough time with his family.
“He just talked about the things you can do,” she told The Guardian. “Just to do your best, and that there will always be elements of that [guilt] in the roles that we do, and probably to a certain degree just accepting that; but we are still doing our best.”
Despite the difficulties of raising a newborn while leading a country, Ardern has found workarounds to integrate her daughter into the daily routine where possible, balancing trilateral meetings with the President of Chile and the Prime Minister of Canada on trade while nursing Neve, as reported by The New Yorker.
She has figured out little ways to spend more time with her daughter. “If I don’t see Neve in the morning because I’m up too early, I’ll make sure I’m there to help put her to bed,” she told Now To Love. “I read my papers in the weekend when she’s sleeping so I can play with her when she’s not. Just little things like that.”
There were also often times when Ardern had paperwork delivered to her house so she could keep up with her work. “Making my way through these as I usually do – but with the addition of multitasking and doing a little bit of rocking,” she told Kidspot. “Multitasking like every single parent I have ever met – so big shout out to them.”
Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford is also Neve’s primary caregiver, a point that she regularly brings up, “what I consistently acknowledge is that I’m not doing anything special in the sense that actually I have a lot of help,” she said to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “She’s notorious for skipping meals, and so the most important job I’ve got is to make sure she’s eating properly,” Grayford told Vogue.
The fact that Clarke has the ability to juggle his career and also be our primary caregiver makes all of this possible. But what has struck me the most is from the moment we announced the way that we would make things work, the number of men and women who have said ‘we did exactly the same thing’. There isn’t a lot of discussion about something that has been happening over a number of decades, and we need to normalise that too.How Jacinda Ardern and her little family are changing the world for all women | Now To Love
Praised for her excellent leadership to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ardern was re-elected by her country in the 2020 New Zealand general election. In a recent interview with Gone By Lunchtime’s Toby Manhire, Ardern described a typical day in office during the pandemic:
During the lockdown, every day I had a routine like everyone did, I would walk from Premier House over to the Beehive, I would have my daily calls, and I would get at a particular time the results for the day. I had a whiteboard in the office and that is where I tracked our case numbers, our testing numbers, also our stocks of testing equipment, our PPE equipment and reserves. I had all of that on a whiteboard in my office. For me you know it was just waiting for the peak that we knew we would have to reach before we came down again, and just the reliance on the science that would we expected would happen with the virus did. So that whiteboard was a very big deal for me.Jacinda Ardern on 2020, what pundits get wrong, and the great Fruju debate | The Spinoff
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.