As a digital nomad and journalist, I travel the world while logging around 70 articles a month. To effectively manage a country-hopping lifestyle while also building my bylines and clients, I turn to the advice of seasoned movers-and-shakers who have developed habits and strategies for success. Each month, I’ll highlight the daily routine of influential professionals, making for the right kind of fodder while you down your coffee.
While there are plenty of inspiring, influential business leaders, one of the most beloved and renowned of the past decade is the chief operation officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg. Not only did she give a new meaning behind the verb ‘lean’ with her New York Times best-selling debut novel, Lean In, but she is the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board of directors, holding a prime seat in key decisions of this multi-billion dollar company.
Today, she’s an active keynote speaker and social justice activist, as well as one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world. All of her tenacity, courage and diligence has served her well, considering she has an estimated net worth of just over a billion. This widowed mother and powerhouse lives by a few rituals that maintain her productivity and stimulate her creativity.
Here, just a few you can apply to your own day-to-day habits:
She’s an early riser
We’ve all heard the advice before: the early worm gets the worm — but science may make this idiom gospel. As one one study indicated, those who effortlessly rise with the sun tend to be more conscientious, proactive and agreeable — all leadership qualities essential for career success (and glass-shattering).
Sandberg is one of the first to the office, arriving around 7 a.m. each and every single day. By this time, she’s already greeted her children, fired off emails and is prepped for the day ahead. While some research indicates your tendency to be a morning person or a night owl is genetic, giving yourself a slow start to the day could result in a more calm approach to your responsibilities and provide a clear head before you dive into whatever deliverables come across your desk.
She keeps track of every detail and meeting
The first week of my first job, I met the CEO of the company and came into the meeting without a notebook. He kindly and calmly — yet firmly — sent me back to my desk to grab paper and pen. He reminded me to never come empty-handed to anything, and it’s advice I’ve never forgotten.
Sandberg is the prime examples of the effectiveness of note-taking. In an interview with Fortune, she revealed that she takes copious details about her day in spiral-bound notebook. This is one way of keeping track of anything-and-everything that needs to be completed in a day, serving as a smart (and well, simple) way to prioritize action items.
According to the story, once she has completed everything on a page, she’ll rip it out and move onto the next. This ensure nothing is left hanging — and keeps her focused on the present. Why the old-fashioned approach when Evernote and other digital productivity solutions are available? Perhaps Sandberg is old fashioned, or she’s abiding by research, which reveals when you physically write things down, you soak up the information much longer than typing.
She respects emotional state
Even though female c-level executives and entrepreneurs only make up a fraction of the business leaders, their leadership styles vary greatly from their male counterparts. While it’s a generalized statement to assume all men and women lead the same way, ladies at the top have been credited with a stronger bottom line. This could be because they follow their gut — and they tend to be more empathetic.
One ritual Sandberg follows is starting each meeting with an open invitation for managers to discuss not only their professional but their emotional state. This question might not seem like much, but it illustrates Sandberg’s respect and acknowledgement that personal wellbeing is important to the performance of an employee, as well as their hard skills. Checking in with yourself — and those you lead — is a healthy, mature way to approach your day-to-day efficiency.
She prioritizes work/life balance
In 2015, Sheryl Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg, the former CEO of SurveyMonkey, tragically passed away after falling off a treadmill on vacation in Punta Mita. Sandberg has been transparent about the grieving experience, especially as she has been tasked with the difficult task of raising their two children on her own.
One way she provides normalcy for her kids is by maintaining family traditions. Before Goldberg died, she always left work at 5:30 p.m., no matter how hectic the office was, to ensure she had dinner with her family. Today, she applies the same rule, all in an effort to maintain a work and life balance — even as one of the most well-known COOs in the world. During this suppertime, Sandberg also continues a conversation she had when her husband was alive, encouraging the children to reveal the best and worst moments of their day.
She prioritizes sleep
Between helping to run the business interactions of one of the most important — and leading — companies on the planet, being a dedicated mother and writing books, Sandberg also somehow manages to budget sleep.
How come? Sandberg said not collecting enough shut-eye is one of her greatest regrets early in her career. As she revealed in an interview, “[It’s a] common but often counterproductive approach… Sleep deprivation just makes people anxious, irritable and confused.”
While the amount of recommended Zzz’s vary with age and health, generally speaking, an adult should aim for at least seven hours each night to remain alert and happy.
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