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Daily Routines

Oprah Winfrey: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore the routines, schedules, habits and typical day in their life.

“You get a car, you get a car, and everybody gets a car!” is one of the countless iconic lines that comes to mind when anyone utters the name: Oprah. While most entrepreneurs praise “the to-do list,” Oprah isn’t a fan – instead, she prioritizes mindfulness, no alarm clocks, and keeping business affairs to a bare minimum.

From a poverty-stricken upbringing in rural Mississippi, to earning a full scholarship before landing a spot on the morning talk show, Baltimore Is Talking, to now, securing her status as a global icon and America’s first black billionaire, with a net worth of US$2.5 billion, you’re probably wondering – how does she do it?

The eight things Oprah needs to start a “beautiful” day when she arises each morning by 7:23am (without an alarm clock) are: Nature, taking her five dogs out, the perfect caffeinated-decaffeinated coffee (her very own concoction with a touch of hazelnut), a box filled with 365 truths to choose from each day, meditation, a dip into the ‘Bowl of Saki’ app for ancestral teachings, and a good workout.

“8:30 A.M. I have a series of spiritual exercises that I do every day,” she told Harper’s BAZAAR. “After reading Gathered Truths, I check out “Bowl of Saki” on my phone; it’s delivered to my in-box every morning. It contains the teachings of the Sufis, a Middle Eastern sect that believes all paths lead to God and that all religions are one, pointing to the same north star.”

It’d be nice to envision all greenery and meditation, though that wouldn’t be accurate for someone as well-established as Oprah. After starting her day right, Oprah knows how to get down to business – and fast. In fact, she prides herself on wrapping up all business affairs within two hours (max).

To fulfil these duties earlier on in the day when she’s at her working best, Oprah typically prioritises these affairs for completion between 1:30pm until 3:30pm; utilizing the dedicated time to personally sign checks, check in with Gayle, her O magazine editor, and Mindy, CEO-President of Weight Watchers, whom Oprah is a both a key shareholder and spokesperson for.

Oprah’s not a fan of writing to-do lists, instead she knows what she needs to do (a list she keeps firmly in mind thanks to her Chief of Staff, who sends through an itinerary each night), but she does love her iPad Mini – her chosen device for doing just about “everything.”

“Having grown up poor, I can never completely turn over all my money matters to anyone else. It’s important for me to know how much the electricity bill is, to know what’s coming in, what’s going out. I never want to be one of those people who delegates that task to someone else and then one day is surprised to find out how much money they do or don’t have.”

When important business is considered done, Oprah embarks on her second workout for the day – this time, followed by a routine trip to the teahouse; where she fondly reads – one of the many ways in which Oprah remains calm, focussed and zen. When Oprah feels stressed, she’s not afraid to close her office door and take a much needed breather in order to simply stop and regather.

While classic award-winning films are not out of the question, Oprah’s not a fan of TV, thereby admitting, “I can go for weeks without turning on the TV.” A good book on the other hand, consider it mandatory in the life of Oprah.

For me now, a perfect day is not just one thing; it’s a series of small things.

A Day In the Life of Oprah | Harper’s BAZAAR

When the day draws to a close, Oprah has an early dinner around 6 – 6:30pm, where she loves to cook a healthy meal, incorporating her quintessential balance of protein, one carb, and two vegetables.

Following dinner, Oprah unwinds with a good book by the fireplace – she flicks her final page by 10pm when she gets ready for bed. Oprah emphasises the importance of sleep (but not too much), maintaining five-and-a-half hours as her perfect number, whereby anything less would just result in one hot mess.

“I’m not one of those people who is trying to act like I don’t sleep. I used to be like, “Oh, I only need four hours.” Now I need exactly 5 1/2 to 6 in order to feel like I’ve done well.”

Before Oprah sleeps, she grabs one of her many gratitude journals and reflects on that day; documenting the five things she’s the most grateful for, or the things she found the most joy in.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

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.

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Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.