Top CEOs Work Crazy Hours Even On Normal Days

Tim Armstrong

It’s not news that many CEOs wake up extremely early. The pressure of the job makes it one of the only  ways to keep up and still get in a minimum of exercise, family, or personal time. 

The Guardian spoke to some top CEOs, who revealed that the definition of work-life balance for CEOs is pretty far off from what most of us would consider reasonable.

The reward for making it to the top seems to be more, not less work. 

Below are some typical schedules when they’re at home and things are as close to normal as they get. But the life of a CEO is also full of travel and corporate crises, which are likely to stretch many days even further. 

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong wakes up around 5 a.m., is out of the house and working from his car by 7 a.m., and works until 7 p.m. He used to start sending emails immediately after waking up, but now restrains himself until 7 a.m.

Weekends are family time, but he’s back at it again after 7 p.m. on Sundays. 

Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment, gets up “at 5 in the morning, sometimes earlier,” and immediately starts sending emails until her kids get up. She has family dinner scheduled at 7:30 p.m., but works again after that, sometimes for as much as two hours, prepping for the next morning’s meetings.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao is up at 6 a.m., exercises for 40 minutes, then works nearly continuously until 10:45 p.m., pausing for family dinner. 

He exercises for four hours on weekends, then preps for his work week in between spending time with his wife and children. 

That’s in line with other famous CEOs, like GE’s Jeff Immelt, who’s up at 5:30, or GM’s Dan Akerson, who rarely makes it past 4:30 or 5 a.m. before he gets up and starts calling Asia.

Some take it even further. Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne runs businesses based on two different continents. When he’s in America, he gets up at 3:30 a.m. to start dealing with Europe. 

Being CEO is the goal of many driven business professionals. They should keep the tradeoffs in mind. 

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