Daily Routines is a series by Balance the Grind, profiling successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and business executives to explore their routines, habits and rituals.
Before she was the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and one of the most influential and powerful women in the tech world, Sheryl Sandberg was a Google executive, working on developing Google’s ad business and regularly putting in long hours everyday, from 7am to 7pm.
According to a 2017 Bloomberg article, after Sandberg welcomed her first child, she started sneaking out of Google’s office early, “sometimes placing a decoy jacket on her chair, leaving the light on at her desk, or scheduling afternoon meetings in other buildings so her colleagues wouldn’t see her leave.”
These days, Sheryl Sandberg is a lot more open about her work habits, publishing her widely popular book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, in 2013, which has become a manifesto of female empowerment in the workplace.
Let’s take a look at Sheryl Sandberg’s typical daily routine.
During the week, my days are planned around taking my children to school, going to work at Facebook, trying to make meetings as productive as possible, and getting home in time for dinner with my family.How does Sheryl Sandberg plan her day? | Quora
Like many other successful people’s daily routine, Sandberg is an early riser, beginning her day at around 5.30am. After getting her kids ready for school, dropping them off, and answering emails, she’ll arrive at Facebook’s office at 7am.
During her workday, Sandberg’s ultimate priority is efficiency, a trait she shares with her Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, “Mark has done a really good job improving the efficiency of meetings at Facebook this year. He asks people to send materials in advance so we can use the time for discussion and we try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting — are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”
To help organize her schedule, keep appointments, set reminders, and simply get herself organized for the day ahead, Sandberg uses a spiral-bound notebook she carries with her at all times, which she uses to keep track of appointments and her to-do list.
In a 2013 Fortune profile, Miguel Helft writes, “her days are a flurry of meetings that she runs with the help of a decidedly undigital spiral-bound notebook. On it, she keeps lists of discussion points and action items. She crosses them off one by one, and once every item on a page is checked, she rips the page off and moves to the next. If every item is done 10 minutes into an hourlong meeting, the meeting is over.”
In stark contrast to her days at Google, Sandberg makes it a clear point to leave work every day at the same time. Each day, without fail, no matter which jobs may need doing, Sandberg leaves the office at 5.30pm to ensure she has time to get home, have dinner with her family, and spend the evening with them.
Dave and I had a tradition at the dinner table with our kids in which each of us would share the best and worst moments of our day. Giving children undivided attention — something we all know is important but often fail to do — is another of the key steps toward building their resilience. My children and I have continued this tradition, and now we also share something that makes us feel grateful to remind ourselves that even after loss, there is still so much to appreciate in life.Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss | THe New York Times
After dinner, Sandberg will typically relax with a good book and maybe even an episode or two of her favourite TV shows. Then it’s off to bed at around 93.0pm. In Lean In, Sandberg talks about her regret in not getting enough sleep in her earlier years, “If I could go back and change one thing about how I lived in those early years. I would force myself to get more sleep.” In a 2015 Quora post, she highlighted the difference in sleep patterns between herself and Zuckerberg:
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.What was it like for Sheryl Sandberg to join Facebook and work in a young, hacker-centric culture? | Quora
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