Barack Obama's Productivity Tactics

Being the president of the USA is a very demanding job. It requires some serious time management and work coping skills. 99U has compiled a list of things Barack Obama does that keep him going and focused and help him get things done.

The productivity tips are compiled from portraits of the president by Michael Lewis of Vanity Fair, Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker, among others.

Most of them deal with time management:

  • Obama gets a head start on his day the night before. He stays up until 1am (long after his family has turned in), leafing through the binders of documents he has to review and getting his thoughts organised for the next day.
  • He protects his personal time. That late night period is his personal time, "the closest thing he experiences to privacy", writes Lewis. Two other blocks of time he keeps sacred are his morning workout and dinner with his daughters.
  • He limits decision fatigue with strict routines. Obama only wears blue or grey suits; he can't afford to have to make small decisions like what he eats or wears because he has too many other decisions to make. Similarly, according to Lizza's New Yorker article, the president prefers "decision" memos with three checkboxes at the bottom for agree, disagree or discuss.

Check out the 99U post for more tips and the excellent Vanity Fair and New Yorker articles for more detailed portraits (I especially like Lewis's account of playing basketball with the president).

How Barack Obama Gets Things Done [99U]


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