Mahatma Gandhi

Lawyer

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India's independence from British rule, and to later inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. 1

Daily Routine

Mahatma Gandhi had a very simple daily routine. He would wake up before sunrise and spend the first hour in prayer and meditation. He would then go for a long walk and spend the rest of the morning reading, writing, and attending to correspondence. Lunch was usually a simple vegetarian meal. After lunch, he would rest for a while and then spend the afternoon meeting with people, attending to more correspondence, and writing. In the evening, he would attend prayer meetings and take part in discussions about India’s freedom struggle. He was also known to take long walks in the evening and spend some time spinning cotton. He would go to bed early, usually around 8 PM.

Nikola Tesla

Inventor

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. 1 2 3

Daily Routine

Arguably one of the most inventive minds in human history, Nikola Telsa developed a set of remarkable habits that he believed helped him excel in numerous fields.

Telsa provided us with an interesting insight into his dietary habits in a 1935 interview: “Why overburden the bodies that serve us? I eat but two meals a day, and I avoid all acid-producing foods…I partake liberally of fresh vegetables, fish and meat sparingly, and rarely.”

Of his exercise and bathing habits, Telsa commented: "I walk eight or ten miles every day, and never take a cab or other conveyances when I have the time to use leg power. I also exercise in my bath daily, for I think that this is of great importance. I take a warm bath, followed by a prolonged cold shower."

With around 300 patents attributed to him, it may come as no surprise that Telsa completely immersed himself with his work. Such dedication often came at the cost of sleep, he said: “Sometimes I doze for an hour or so. Occasionally, however, once in a few months, I may sleep for four or five hours. Then I awaken virtually charged with energy, like a battery…There is no doubt about it but that sleep is a restorer, a vitalizer, that it increases energy. But on the other hand, I do not think it is essential to one's well being, particularly if one is habitually a poor sleeper."

Harry S. Truman

U.S President

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as vice president. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO. 1 2 3

Daily Routine

Harry S. Truman rose at 7:30 am and begun his day, as advised by his physician, with a shot of bourbon and a big glass of orange juice. Accompanied by the secret service, the US president then embarked on a brisk walk around the compound before sitting to eat a typical breakfast of eggs, bacon, cereal, toast and milk at 8am. Truman’s working day commenced at 9am with a staff meeting in the lawn, followed by responding to various presidential documents and at 11am he swum and sunbathed at Fort Zach.

The president’s early afternoon was occupied with working lunches and meetings and it wasn’t until the late afternoon that he could afford more time to relaxation. For instance, Truman frequently allowed his staff to go deep-sea fishing although rarely did he accompany them, preferring instead to swim, read or take the occasional nap.

Evenings were usually a very social occasion with Truman inviting up to 14 guests to join him for dinner. After which, movies were screened in the living room for whoever was interested. Truman was also an avid poker player and would challenge guests to game.

Sylvia Plath

Poet

Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. She is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for two of her published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel, as well as The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death. 1 2 3

Daily Routine

Sylvia Plath’s personal journal provides an intimate insight into the thoughts and struggles she encountered on a day-to-day basis. A notable theme re-emerging throughout her entries was her continual battle in finding a consistent and productive writing routine.

Before Plath had children, she planned to write between 4 to 6 hours per day. Usually from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and in the evening from 4 pm to 6 pm.

Not until the latter stages of her life did the American confessional poet generate some consistency in her routine. Plath regularly took sedatives to help her sleep and once their effects wore off around 5 am, she rose to write until her children woke up. Following this routine, Plath produced the majority of the works in Ariel.

After a near-constant struggled with depression, Plath committed suicide at age 30.

Igor Stravinsky

Composer

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ComSE was a Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. Stravinsky's compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. 1 2 3

Daily Routine

Igor Stravinsky started off his day with morning exercise.

Irrespective of whether he had the motivation to work, Stravinsky isolated himself within his chosen workspace and composed for at least 3-4 hours every day. He often filled in the remaining time with less mentally demanding tasks such as replying to his letters and practising the piano.

A particular habit the Russian-born composer developed while composing was to close all the windows and blinds. He recalled, “I have never been able to compose unless sure that no one could hear me.”

If encountered with a creative block, Stravinsky had an interesting solution: he performed a headstand. In his words, this short burst of physical activity “rests the head and clears the brain”.

The habits practised by Stravinsky, following a strict work routine, eliminating all distractions from the workplace and recognising when his productivity was low, helped him attain a high level of mental performance and ensured his creative juices kept flowing.