5 Things Obama Does to Stay Productive


President Barack Obama is at once the most popular and most divisive figure in the United States. His face is one of the most recognizable anywhere in the world, and no matter what the gravity of his decision, be it his suit choice or his foreign policy, there will be passionate supporters and fierce detractors. Any occupant of the White House will be a polarizing figure, but I think we could all agree that the job of POTUS is among the most stressful on Earth. How does he manage to be productive when the weight of the world and the pressure of a vocal public is on him at all times? We’ve broken down some of his strategies for you so that we might all get our work done in a more presidential fashion.


  1. Tomorrow Starts Today

Obama begins his work for the next day on the preceding night. That is, he takes some time for himself each evening after his family has gone to sleep to go through memos, review briefs, and organize his thoughts for the following day. By getting a head start on the morning rush he is able to make more informed decisions, make them quicker, and do so with more confidence. Try this out for yourself – it doesn’t need to take long at all, but before you lay your head down tonight, take 10-20 minutes and write down a list of what will be on your plate in the morning, go through any pertinent information you have about the tasks, and do your best to organize your thoughts. Gone will be mornings spent waiting for the coffee to kick in, or trying to remember exactly what you should be doing, and you’ll start getting some of your best work done before lunch.


2. Take Care of Your Body and it Will Take Care of You

Obama places a high priority on getting a daily workout. Not only is this healthy and the smart thing to do, it also keeps his mind sharp. After a morning workout in his private gym, or a vigorous basketball game with other DC heavyweights, The President is revved up, and he is more prepared to tackle the issues of the day. If one of the busiest men in the world isn’t forgetting this crucial part of productivity (not to mention health), than neither should you. Take care of your body and it’ll help you do your best work.

3. Don’t Waste Time on the Unessential

Obama doesn’t like making unnecessary decisions. His closet at the White House contains suits of either black or navy blue – if there were any other color it would present him with an unessential decision each and every morning. Even if it only saves him 10 seconds, when you work in the Oval Office, you never know when or why you might be wishing you had that extra time. What unessential decisions are eating away at your time every day?

4. See Both Sides of the Coin

Before moving into the White House, Obama had a very bipartisan reputation in Illinois, and had friends on both sides of the aisle. For the President of the United States, who is pulled and pressured by powerful forces like Congress, the Federal Reserve, and vocal constituents, maintaining that unbiased viewpoint can be tough – but most of us don’t have those factors to worry about. You’ll be more productive when you can understand why a boss or a client wants you to do or execute something a certain way, even if you disagree with it.


5. Know When to Prioritize YOU

Obama gets very little time for himself. His job demands that he be available and ready to make monumental decisions at any moment of any day, regardless of what else may be going on. Even though the Oval Office is one where the unexpected is the expected, Obama does his best to carve out personal time for himself each day. His morning workout, dinner with his daughters, and his late-night preparation for the following day are all sacred moments for him and he does his best to keep them in his schedule. Just because you might not actively be working on a project doesn’t always mean that downtime is unproductive time – giving your brain a chance to relax, wander, and decompress means that when you step back to the plate you will be rested, focused, and you’ll have the stamina to keep going.


If you’d like to read more about how The President manages his day-to-day, be sure to check out these great articles by Michael Lewis of Vanity Fair and Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker.



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