Leading a company to success is a never-ending journey consisting of challenges, goal-setting and long hours.
But knowing when to switch off and rejuvenate, so that you don’t burn out, is an important part of being a good leader.
Business Insider asked 36 Australian CEOs for their routines as soon as they walk in the front door.
From exercising, to vegging out with Netflix, playing the piano and bubbles baths with a beer, here’s what these leading business people do when they get home from work.
If I'm home by myself, first thing I do is turn on the TV, order food from Deliveroo, hop on the couch and play on my phone for the next few hours straight.
When I’m with my boyfriend, who I live with, we’ve made it a new year’s resolution to cook more and spend less time on social media. (Up until now, it would be the two of us on the couch eating takeaway). Since I don’t know how to cook, I’ve subscribed to My Food Bag, so we get ingredients and easy recipes delivered.
We also can never agree on what to watch – he watches boring documentaries and ABC, and I prefer trashy reality TV shows and sitcoms, so we’ve found a common ground with docos on Netflix– they’re not so boring.
So in summary, we literally Netflix and chill every night.
We’re trying to, and failing at, enforcing a social media ban after 8.30pm, but it’s really hard when my life revolves around Instagram and Facebook!!!
I’ve always focused on segmenting things and doing what I need to do to be present in that moment. When I leave work, I find that the 20-minute commute from the office to home is really important in this process, and I switch off from all calls or emails.
The first thing I do when I get home is put away my phone and give everyone, (including the dogs) a kiss and a hug. Letting go of work matters in that first hour really enables me to be present with my family and enjoy their company.
Next I like to get changed; again, it helps me feel like I'm at home. Finally, I will often enjoy one of my favourite brews.
At the moment I am lucky enough to be able to work remotely for the most of the year, so my day-to-day work routine is diverse and ever-changing.
I have a 3-year-old son, so I leave for work early and prioritise finishing around 4pm. Once I leave the office, I am in Mum mode and try and switch off as much as possible. We currently spend our time between Australia, Indonesia and America, so most days we go down to the beach, walk our dog Bob and spend quality time together disconnecting from emails, phone calls or anything work related.
I have really reaped the rewards of creating a healthy work life balance, especially with a child. I am learning to let go a little, taking time at the end of the day to step away from work, get out of the office and experience the culture, people or places of wherever we are in the world at the time!
It’s an important part of my daily routine, which I encourage all my staff members to embrace. I believe this resets me for the next day at work and is both enriching for my son and myself!
The first thing I do when I get home is clear my room of distractions and play the piano for 30 minutes.
A quick burst of creativity improves concentration and puts me into a state of relaxation before looking over and digitalising my notes from the day. I’m constantly writing notes, so tackling them every evening is a great way to look back at the mess of crazy ideas I thought were plausible at the time (and figuring out which ones actually are).
This review means that I hold myself accountable for anything that is still outstanding. Not only does it keep me on track with daily tasks, but it helps to measure personal performance and productivity on a daily and weekly basis.
Starting the whole process off with music provides the clarity to separate the review from the rest of the day and look at it with fresh focus.
My creative juices really start to flow when I get home as that's my sanctuary. I love putting on music and getting busy in the kitchen. I put together vegetarian dishes, from tacos and curries, to paella -- with Rudimental, David Guetta, Disclosure, Puccini or even Beethoven in the background.
I love all aspects of my business and don't see it as work - overseas calls and planning meetings are part of my after hours but it's also the perfect time to unwind and consolidate the day.
The Qantas lounge is my second home. I always make myself a virgin Mary before any flight home. I enjoy the routine of trying to mix the perfect drink and it always reminds me I'm heading home. By the time I arrive at my real home I always take my shoes off at the door. Tamahra, my partner, is the boss of the house (according to the kids) and it's easier to say 'Yes dear, of course they are off'. Next is a huge hug with the kids who also check my shoes are off.
Put the kettle on, make myself a herbal tea, whip up a healthy little treat then sit and write a to-do list for tomorrow. It's my opportunity to process any concerns that might have arisen, projects to focus on or tasks that not have come to completion today.
Then with a lighter load I sit and meditate. As a Vedic meditator I try to practise twice daily, often finding the evening session brings clarity and perspective... And generally a few more additions for the to-do list.
I like to keep myself in business mode early in the week. My after work hours from Monday to Wednesday usually consist of activities that keep my mind refreshed and ready for the next day. I like to hit the gym straight after work and blow off some steam – it gives your brain a chance to rest while your body does the talking.
I’m an avid reader, so I’ll usually spend some time of a night reading non-fiction on my Kindle, keeping an open mind for business inspiration. I also like to meditate before I go to sleep, which helps clear my mind of clutter from the day. I find my mind is less prone to wandering at night, as opposed to in the morning when my attention is focused on tasks in the day ahead.
Thursday and Friday evenings are a chance for me to refresh my mind in a different capacity, catching up with friends over dinner or drinks or relaxing with some games on my PS4 at home. It is important for people at every level, CEO or not, to set aside time to unwind.
While I meditate twice a day, I find that I get the most benefit when I practice it as soon as I get home. After a long day at work, I definitely feel that meditation provides a bigger impact after a long day at work, as opposed to the morning where it can provide different benefits. My after work meditation routine is practiced on a cushion made out of buckwheat, which is really good for fixing my 'office' posture.
Drop my bag and get a cuddle from my seven-year-old daughter and a grunt from my 17-year-old son. Sit down with my husband with a drink of red or mineral water and lemon (the red is always nicer) and discuss the day’s events. Then I change what I am wearing into my daggy, comfortable clothes and I immediately feel relaxed.
It gives me a chance to let go of the stresses of the day so I don't bring them into my home life. It can be as little as five minutes or as long as half an hour depending on how I'm feeling. I always emerge feeling centred and relaxed.
I started practicing meditation a few years ago and it's had a huge impact on my life. It's now something I look forward to every day and I couldn't recommend it highly enough. Apps like Buddhify or Smiling Mind that offer guided meditations makes the practice much easier.
I often arrive home after 8pm, so the first thing I do is give my wife a hug and kiss and ask her about her day! Being a CEO requires long hours and you often finish a day with many unanswered questions on your mind.
It’s easy to forget that there’s more to life than work, but family must be number one. No matter how exhausted I feel, I always make the effort to hear all about her day and talk about non-work related areas. It makes for a much more enjoyable evening!
I’m usually travelling a lot on business and for me, my day might finish at 6pm one night and 12pm the next. If I’m at home in Brisbane, I try to keep fit and might go for a run in the evening after work. I find that running works as a stress reliever so I try to incorporate it at least twice a week.
I don’t always have time to cook dinner but given that I live in close proximity to a few of my restaurants, I usually stop there for a quick bite at night. My go to place in the evening is Les Bubbles, where I have my favourite Steak Frites and a glass of grenache. Nothing is better!
I generally leave the office around 6:30pm, then depending on the day, I’d either attend a 30-degree open yoga class at Body Mind Life or go for an ocean swim in Bondi.
This clears my head and refreshes my mind from what occurred in the day and allows me to debrief, keeping my work/life balance in check.
Once home and refreshed, I’d work for a few more hours as a number of our manufacturers and distribution partners are in various countries on different time zones.
The moment I get home from work I sit on the sofa and stare out at the water for at least 15 minutes undisturbed. Meditation and finding at least one moment daily to spend time with yourself is very important as we all manage very busy lives. I take this time to gather my thoughts and to feel refreshed for any events I have in the evening.
The first thing I do when I get home is to simply relax. My husband and I sit down to dinner, we catch up, clearing the mind and refocusing.
I read a lot.
For me, it is really important to have a healthy work life balance – at least as much as is possible when running your own business. Switching off allows me to regain perspective and see the bigger picture.
Spend time with my kids. I always make sure I’m home to help put my kids to bed. I find this is the best way to switch off and it's hard to be stressed when you’re playing with a three- and seven-year-old. I'll try and help my eldest with homework and help with dinner.
Once the kids are asleep I'll connect with my wife and catch up on the day before getting back to emails – a bad habit of mine!
Aris Allegos, CEO of Moula, does a quick check of the email but puts the phone down as soon as he walks in the front door.
Before I pull up in front of my house, I check my email, and respond to anything time sensitive before I get through the front door. That way, when I walk into the house, I can put my phone down on the table, and be fully present and focused on spending some time with my family.
At first it took a bit of courage to disconnect, but I've come to really look forward to those moments of quality time with my wife and kids, without phone or email. It's actually quite liberating.
The notion of getting home from work is a strange one for CEOs as the work and life and are one fluid thing. That being said, I believe it's important to carve some time out for your physical and metal well being.
At the moment I try to leave the office by 7-7.30pm and when I get home I check in our on overseas sales and sports manufacturing and make sure they are set up for their day ahead. I review my sale and metrics dashboard for the day just gone and note down anything important, scan my emails for anything important and then (and this is the hard part) switch off my phone and do something to clear my head.
Normally either go for a run or slip on some yoga shorts and get an hour of me time in the studio.
Believe it or not, the world will still continue to spin. I have loved ones I barely see due to countless hours and the continued challenge of fighting time zones when working for a global business.
This hour is our time whilst the rest of the world continues to descend into some sort of controlled mayhem.
As I am currently sailing in the JJ Giltinan Championship, which is regarded as the world's premier 18-footer championship. As soon as I leave work I head down to the 18-Footer Sailing Club in Sydney’s Double Bay to compete.
When I am not sailing, I usually have work dinners on most nights during the week, so I try to just switch off before going to bed by listening to music or reading. I am currently reading 'The Emotional Life of Your Brain' by Richard J Davidson.
Being an online furniture retailer, we are never closed and so the line between work and home is very much blurred. I spend most days in the Milan Direct head office from approximately 7am to 7pm, and then get home for dinner with my fiancée.
Most nights I jump back online to get on top of any priority tasks to set up the following day’s works. That is what I love about being an online retailer… I can get equally good work done from my laptop from either the office, home or even when out of town.
The first thing I do when I get home is set the table for dinner. I'm a newlywed and got married in the midst of starting Afterpay so have a very understanding and patient partner.
My promise to her has been to always try have dinner together no matter what is going on.
Being a startup CEO means long hours, lots of time away from home and being always on. While I love my work, family has always been the most important part of my life. The best part of my day is when my wife and I sit together for thirty minutes to share the highs and lows of our days with a glass of wine and no distractions.
Work, life balance for me is essential. When I get home I have some time with the kids and my wife. We catch up on the day and spend a little down-time together as a family.
After that, given that we have offices in Edinburgh and Toronto, I check in with the teams there before calling it a day.
It refreshes and clears the mind after a busy day and an intense work-out. I usually then spend another hour or so catching up on non-important but urgent matters that were left aside during the day. I usually get home around 10.30pm and try to be in bed no later than 12.30am, resting for the next day!
The first things I like to do when I get home is take a swim at the beach, go for a long run and then meditate. Startup life can be very demanding so I find that taking this time for myself keeps me focused as well as feeling strong and healthy both mentally and physically.
When I get home I try to switch off from work and just spend some quality time with my kids and the family.
I usually go home via the gym, where I'll do some kind of weights, yoga or a cardio workout, and then head home to my family.
Steven Bowman, CEO of No More Business As Usual and Conscious Governance, reconnects with his wife at a business and personal level.
My wife and I are both Australian CEOs, travel the world extensively, and have a number of businesses occurring at once. At the end of a day, we touch base about what has happened throughout the day, at a business and personal level. This reconnects us.
We discuss with each other any relevant emails or financial issues. This provides a shared understanding of how we are creating our life.
We go out and have dinner and chat about the future. This helps us talk about creating our future and extrapolate on our businesses together.
And we do this together as this is how we have chosen to create our relationship, anew every day. We have been married 40 years.
I run a bath, take a beer with me, wash off the day. Soak until pruned.
The first thing I do when I get home after work is to check-in with my family. I am married with three kids at school so it is important to see how they are and what their day was like. We have dinner together most nights and I enjoy the opportunity to relax and have family time.
We all pitch in to clean up and then the kids will finish off their homework and I will catch up with the news.
I'm in my mid-40s (OK, late 40s) and it's a battle to stop the additional 2kg each year. So I've recently started taking the train to work, and walking 6km each way in the process.
So when I get home? Well, I've stopped collapsing through the front door (progress is being made) but there's still too much huffing & puffing while hugging my wife and kids and catching-up on their days.
The good news is I now feel I've earned an evening beer or wine. Fitness progress is important, but not THAT important!
Lachlan McKnight, CEO of LegalVision, trys to catch an episode of 'Silicon Valley' or 'House of Cards'.
After I finish work, I head home and I go for a run. Where possible, I squeeze in an episode of 'Silicon Valley' or 'House of Cards'. As LegalVision's CEO, my day doesn't have a defined start and finish, and I spend considerable time in the morning and evening debriefing what we did that day, what worked and what didn't.
We have a foot in both the legal and startup space, so I spend time reading about the latest developments in law, tech and startups in Australia and abroad. I have a dedicated and honest team who will tell me what needs improvement.
After work, when you have uninterrupted time, is the opportune moment to reflect on next steps.
Without a doubt, the one thing I do as soon as I get home from work is exercise! I’ve always enjoyed running, so usually I’d slip on my Nike sneakers upon returning home from work and go for a 10km run around the northern beaches, which is where I live.
Lately, I’ve been getting into freeletics, which is high intensity workouts that use your own body weight. The great thing about it is that you don’t need any equipment and you can do it pretty much anywhere, so I usually do it in my backyard or the local park.
I’m very passionate about living a healthy and active lifestyle, so I exercise to keep fit for myself and also to keep up with my young family. I also think exercise is extremely important not only for the body, but also for the mind.
Running your business, especially a start-up, can be quite stressful at times, so I always make sure I find time in my day to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in.
The first thing I do is put my gym gear on and runners (that's about 95% of my battle), then I bolt outside. I try to walk at least an hour a day after work to clear my head. There is something about connecting with nature after a full day at the office.
Sometimes, I'm super productive and listen to a podcast such as 'Tim Ferriss Show', or start up podcast but often, it's just the top 40 hits. I even put songs on repeat when I'm really into them. Right now it's 'Dark Horse' by Katy Perry!
There is something about a repetitive movement such as walking, rowing or using the cross trainer that puts me into a calmer state. I imagine what success will be like tomorrow, one year from now and years into the future. Many of the things I envision during my walks come true, so there must be something to it!
The first thing I do when I get home from work is change out of my corporate clothes and into something comfortable. This draws a line under the day and helps me unwind and be present to enjoy the rest of the evening with my family.
As a CEO I believe work life balance is very important and this is something I instill in our organisation’s culture.
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