Daniel Ek's Daily Routine: Spotify's Swedish CEO Does His Best Thinking on Morning Walks and Sometimes Doesn't Start His Work Day Until 11 a.m. "Swedes, in general, are focused on balance," Ek said.
- Spotify CEO Daniel Ek starts his day later than many other major CEOs.
- Ek goes for a walk every day, even in Sweden's notoriously cold winters.
- He'll take just three or four meetings a day and set aside time to be available on an ad hoc basis.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
Spotify CEO and cofounder Daniel Ek is known for being "ruthless" about prioritizing his time — he doesn't "do social calls" and sometimes blows off scheduled meetings or calls if he's really "in the zone."
That doesn't mean the Swedish billionaire's schedule is packed with meetings all day, though. Ek likes to structure his creativity and has said that Spotify's company culture integrates a Swedish focus on work-life balance.
From daily walks to family time, here's a look at Ek's daily routine, according to past interviews.
6:30 a.m. — Wake up and spend time with wife and kids
7:30 a.m. — Work out
8:30 a.m. — Go for a walk
9:30 a.m. — Read for 30 minutes to an hour
10:30 a.m. — Work day starts
8:30 p.m. — Leave the office, eat dinner out, return home to unwind
2:00 a.m. — Sleep
Ek usually wakes up around 6:30 in the morning, he told the Observer Effect in 2020, saying his wake-up time might sound "incredibly lazy compared to some leaders."
Though a 6:30 morning alarm might seem more than early enough for some of us, many major CEOs are known for getting an incredibly early start to their days. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who once joked about sleeping in until 4:30, typically wakes up at 3:45 a.m., while Amex CEO Steve Squeri wakes up at 5:45.
Ek told the publication that he'll spend the first hour of his day after waking up with his wife and kids, then leave to go work out at 7:30.
At 8:30 a.m. he'll go for a walk, which he does daily, even in winter. Ek says he often does his best thinking on walks, and is a proponent of walking meetings.
"I have built so many meaningful relationships and had so many impactful conversations while walking and talking that it probably counts as one of my biggest life hacks," Ek tweeted in June.
After his walk, Ek sets time aside to read for 30 minutes to an hour — sometimes the news, but also an "ever-rotating stack of books."
Ek's workday usually starts around 10:30 a.m., but sometimes might even start later. On a 2020 episode of the Tim Ferriss show, Ek said he didn't start his work day until 11 a.m. that morning.
During the work day, Ek likes to keep his calendar relatively open, unless he's traveling and can't keep to his normal schedule. He usually has no more than three or four meetings per day.
"I devote most of my dedicated free time to be available on an ad hoc basis," Ek told the Observer Effect.
Ek said he likes to make big decisions later in the day, in part because a large portion of Spotify's staff is in the US. He uses the earlier part of his day to focus on coaching, one-on-ones, and planning and usually tackles one big topic a day that he sinks a lot of time into.
He often schedules time to just think, and sometimes goes without sleep for days at a time in order to deal with a specific issue, Insider previously reported.
Although Forbes reported in 2012 — back before Ek was married with kids — that Ek would typically leave the office around 8:30 p.m., eat dinner out, then return home to unwind and later sleep around 2 a.m., it's unclear if this is still his routine over 10 years later.
Ek has said that Spotify is influenced by Swedish work culture and he thinks that prioritizing being a present father for his daughters has helped increase his effectiveness at work, he said in the 2020 interview.
"Swedes, in general, are focused on balance," Ek said in the interview. "Work is not everything."