Obama After Dark

An article by the The New York Times on how President Obama spends his time is going rounds on my social network. Titled Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone, it gives us an unprecedented glimpse into how one of the busiest and powerful person in the country structures his personal time.

Obama’s Work Ethics
In 2009, Jon Favreau, Mr. Keenan’s predecessor, gave the president a draft of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech the night before they were scheduled to leave for the ceremony in Oslo. Mr. Obama stayed up until 4 a.m. revising the speech, and handed Mr. Favreau 11 handwritten pages later that morning.

He favours writing as it helped to organize his thoughts.

On Reducing Cognitive Overload
Their dream was to never make decisions, says Mr. Emanuel, the current mayor of Chicago. Opening a shop that sells only one color (white) in one size (medium) was their dream.

This is consistent with reducing the mental load.

Wearing the same suit (grey or blue), and leaving what to eat to his chef, he doesn’t let these recurring decisions to sap away his precious energy which can be better utilised for more important issues.

On Crafting Out Time To Think And Reflect
“Everybody carves out their time to get their thoughts together. There is no doubt that window is his window,” said Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s first chief of staff. “You can’t block out a half-hour and try to do it during the day. It’s too much incoming. That’s the place where it can all be put aside and you can focus.”

The window he’s referring to is the time Mr Obama spends alone in his study after having dinner with his family. Four, five hours of time by himself. To gather thoughts, to thoroughly think through issues, and to decompress.

Family First
He’s first and foremost a doting father, a loving husband and a human being. Relationships matter to him, even in a job as intense as the president of the United States. He carve out time for them. Dinner together every day at 6.30 p.m., frequent movie night, spending time with his wife and daughters. He’s a shinning example of no matter how busy we are, relationship matters.

Taking Time Out For People
Mr. Obama saw a television report about students whose “bucket list” included meeting the president. Why had he not met them, the president asked Mr. Love.

“‘Someone decided it wasn’t a good idea,’ I said,” Mr. Love recalled. “He said, ‘Well, I’m the president and I think it’s a good idea.’”

***
I think in these eight years, he has demonstrated humanity, repair relationships and build bridges. He’s a wonderful human being above all. Once his term is up, the world is going to miss this wise and grounded man.