Q. What are some things you do to manage your time effectively?
A. I get up at 4:30 every morning. I like the quiet time. It’s a time I can recharge my batteries a bit. I exercise and I clear my head and I catch up on the world. I read papers. I look at e-mail. I surf the Web. I watch a little TV, all at the same time. I call it my quiet time but I’m already multitasking. I love listening to music, so I’ll do that in the morning, too, when I’m exercising and watching the news.
—An interview with Robert Iger, the C.E.O. of Disney, in the Times.
hoever said that the early bird gets the worm could have been talking about me, only I’m a person, not a bird, and I’m not interested in getting worms, more like getting things done. But I do get up early. In fact, the secret to my success could be boiled down to three little words: my quiet time. It begins at 1 A.M., when I get out of bed, check my e-mail, brush my teeth, scan some documents, and floss. Then I’ll surf the Web, maybe order a sectional couch or trade zloty futures. Last week, I bought a Swiss chalet and sold it at a twenty-per-cent profit while I was still in my pajamas. I wanted to high-five someone, but no one else was awake. Sometimes I can’t remember if I’ve flossed already, so I’ll do it again, just to be sure, while checking my e-mail and maybe sending a fax. Did I mention that the early bird gets the worm? That in many ways applies to me.
By 1:03, I’ve had two cups of coffee, I’m down in my basement on the elliptical, and my heart is pounding like a cheetah’s. I know that cheetahs have a fast heart rate because I often watch Animal Planet while I’m on the elliptical, although sometimes I’ll do the picture-in-picture thing so I can watch CNBC Asia while I’m watching the thing about the cheetahs. It isn’t always about cheetahs; it’s about other animals, too, like meerkats. I just said cheetahs as a for instance. I do the elliptical naked. One time when I was on the elliptical, I patched myself into a conference call in Jakarta and accidentally hit the camera thing on my phone, so everyone wound up seeing me in the buff, all flopping around and everything. Another time when I was on the elliptical, I saw an amazing documentary about cheetahs.
While I’m on the elliptical and maybe ordering a hovercraft online, I’ll drain a six-pack of Red Bull. Red Bull Red Bull Red Bullybullybull. Then I’ll call London. I don’t have any business in London, but I have a London phone directory and I like to call people at random. It helps me clear my head. You’d be surprised, though, how some people in London will get totally honked off if you call them out of the blue just to say “What’s up?” It’s not an anti-American thing; sometimes I’ll call them with a fake British accent and say “Tallyho!” and they’ll still get pissed. They’ll act like it’s the middle of the night, even though with the time change and everything it’s already 6 A.M. But even if they tell me to go fuck myself it recharges my batteries.
There’s no end to the things I can accomplish during my quiet time. I have a fairly nimble contralto voice, and after I pop an amphetamine or two I’ll work my way through the Metropolitan Opera repertoire, taking breaks to revise my will or maybe buy a fishing lodge. One thing I like to do is a controlled burn of dry twigs in the woods behind my house. I’ll do the elliptical for twenty minutes, set fire to the woods, sing an aria from “The Magic Flute,” then jump back on the elliptical. Now, here’s something that honks me off: neighbors who call the fire department when you’re in the middle of a controlled burn. Those sirens start wailing and, before you know it, there goes my quiet time. I guess the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who understand quiet time and those who don’t. By the way, you know who really makes the most of their quiet time? Cheetahs. I saw a documentary on them one time and they are awesome. ♦