On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
Depending on how you look at it, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg either has zero work-life balance or he’s actually pretty good at it.
During a 2015 Facebook Q&A session, Zuckerberg revealed that he only spends 50 to 60 hours a week actually working; a very reasonable number for a tech CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world. But if you were to include the time he spends thinking about Facebook’s mission, well, it paints a different picture.
“I spend most of my time thinking about how to connect the world and serve our community better, but a lot of that time isn’t in our office or meeting with people or doing what you’d call real work,” he said. “If you count the time I’m in the office, it’s probably no more than 50-60 hours a week. But if you count all the time I’m focused on our mission, that’s basically my whole life.”
On a typical day, Zuckerberg wakes up at 8am and starts scrolling through Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp right away. “It’s a pretty sad situation to be honest. I have contacts and I can’t see very well. And before I put my contacts in I often look to see what is going on Facebook,” he revealed during a Facebook Q&A.
As part of his morning routine, Zuckerberg goes for a run three times a week. “Staying in shape is very important. Doing anything well requires energy, and you just have a lot more energy when you’re fit,” he said during a Q&A (responding to Arnold Schwarzenegger of all people). “I make sure I work out at least three times a week — usually first thing when I wake up. I also try to take my dog running whenever I can, which has the added bonus of being hilarious because that basically like seeing a mop run.”
While the running joke that Zuckerberg wears the same t-shirt every day has basically become a meme, there’s actually a great reason behind it. Similar to Barack Obama and Jeff Bezos, the Facebook CEO is looking for ways to minimise decision fatigue throughout his day.
“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” Zuckerberg explained. “I’m in this really lucky position, where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than a billion people. And I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”
During a 2015 Quora Q&A with Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, she recounted a story about Zuckerberg’s disbelief that she would be asleep by 9.30pm.
When I joined Facebook there were only 550 employees and late night meetings and all-night hackathons were a core part of the culture. I realized even before I started that I wasn’t going to totally fit it. One night as Mark and I were considering working together, I called Mark at 9pm. He said he was at a dinner and asked if he could call later so I told him I’d be up for another 30 minutes. The next morning he reached out asking if I was feeling ok; he assumed that I’d been sick since I went to bed at 9:30pm. I explained that with two young children, 9:30pm was often my normal bed time. I love that Mark is now experiencing parenthood first hand! I don’t think he yet has a 9:30 bedtime, but maybe one day he will.What was it like for Sheryl Sandberg to join Facebook and work in a young, hacker-centric culture? | Quora
Now, as the parent of two daughters, Maxima and August, with his wife, Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg has swapped out late-night hacking binges for sleep routines with his children. During a commencement speech at Harvard University, Zuckerberg talked about a bedtime ritual he had with his daughter Max.
“I am reminded of a prayer ‘Mi Shebeirach,’ that I say whenever I face a big challenge that I sing to my daughter, thinking of her future when I tuck her in at night,” he said. “And it goes, ‘May the source of strength who has blessed the ones before us help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing.’”
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.